Upcoming motion for increasing custody

Parental Alienation, Malicious Mother Syndrome, dealing with the ex, and various other non-legal concerns throughout the process.

Upcoming motion for increasing custody

Unread postby whatever_works » Wed Jul 12, 2017 12:37 pm

I have a motion coming up for allowing me more time with the kids and appointing a GAL for my case. I could use some advice on strategy.

Backstory: divorce has been ongoing for close to 3 years now. I have children EO Friday at 5 to Sunday at 5. I have a dinner < parenting time > on Tuesdays 4 to 7. D10 enjoys her time with me but D16 does not visit. D16 is starting her senior year in school and thinks both her parents are idiots. She says she wants to be left alone yet at the same time takes advantage of the situation by playing one parent against the other. Last year, she told me that she feels ridiculous doing "visitations" when we live so close to each other. She would rather just focus on her school at mom's house (she refers to it as "home" because I have corrected her several times and now she does that on purpose when she is trying to hurt me)

D and I were close when the divorce began. She took it hard initially and kept fighting with mom. < parenting time > was only 5 hours on Saturdays at first. About six months later, mom and grandma went to work on D. D accused me of violence and being a woman hater with no evidence. She claimed she learnt it all in school. She started insulting me at every opportunity. Even now, she argues with me and if I offer logical responses she just shuts me out. I basically have no choice but to listen to her and agree with her. Which is what I have been doing.

The emotional drama continued for the next year or so. We modified court order asking for flexibility for D16. She stopped visiting soon after. Then grandma moved out. D made new friends. Her school grades were ruined for the previous year but with the help of new friends, she started improving. She started talking to me again and blamed one friend from previous year for bad advice. She also asked for help with school. Mom was not having much luck advocating for honors courses so I stepped in and got it done. D was grateful, for like a week and then went back to ignoring me and enjoying time with mom. She asked me for a DSLR camera and was grateful, for a week. Mom has no job so D wants to keep dad around for goodies. She comes when she needs something, does a mea culpa routine, promises to improve and to mend relations. Once she gets what she wants, she goes back to no contact.

Last week she called me and said things are tough with mom and she wants a break. I picked her up and she stayed for 2 days. Then without any explanation she came out of the bedroom sobbing and said she wants to go back "home." Refused to say what happened but insisted on calling it "home" to get back at me. I don't fight all this, as long as she is happy and her grades are improving.

Mom plays this situation to her advantage. She claims the daughter's grades improved once she stopped going for visitations and the visitations were to blame. She has a long list of small arguments I had with D and wants to cash in every comment.

I've learned from D10 that D16 told a friend she finds dad less annoying than mom now. (And also that she has a crush on a boy in school). For the last two years, dad was more annoying. So there is definitely a change. And there is constant fighting with mom. She has told me herself she has no respect for mom because mom is always dependent and is not a good role model for her.

D10 enjoys her time with me and wants to spend more time here. She says she likes my house better. Mom can't care for the house and things are breaking down. Fridge doesn't give ice, shower doesn't work frequently etc. D10 loves me more than she loves mom and she is effusive in her praise for me. But she knows that mom is controlling the process and doesn't allow more time with dad. I always tell her we are working on it but mom says dad does not ask for more time. D10 understands that is not true, and by extension, mom lies frequently in other matters too. In fact, D16 is fully aware of mom's lies as well.

My wife does not bring the younger girl into custody arguments anymore. She just claims the older girl suffered from visitations so dad's time should be limited for both kids. I don't want to spend too much time on D16 because by the time of the trial, she would have one foot out the door anyway. I want to focus my energy on the younger girl - both in court and outside. I honestly want to help her with school, college and career, etc. I was the same way with the older girl but last 3 years destroyed all my hard work of 13 years.

As for appointing the GAL, my attorney thought that the only time my ex was willing to negotiate was when we asked for a GAL. We have asked the previous judge 2 or 3 times but every time he found a reason not to appoint one. My lawyer mentioned the upcoming motion for GAL to this new judge and his response was not very sympathetic either. He said this is the third time you are making the request. My lawyer said he will outline his reasons on the date. His reasons are that the previous denials by the judge were because of the pending DV charge. And also, that mom has a lot to hide (whereas dad is being truthful) and one way to get to the truth is with a GAL. Not sure if judge would buy that so close to trial (in 6 months). But I am not too concerned. I have heard of mixed results with a GAL on these forums so I am good either way.

On the other hand, I am very nervous about the custody arguments. I would love to get more time with the kids before the trial. I want to have a bullet list of arguments for my lawyer to make and I also want to have a strategy for negotiation before seeing the judge. My wife has offered to extend the current plan by a few hours in minor ways but so far I have refused to discuss her offer since it is not substantial or sincere in any way. My motion asks for extending EOW to Monday morning adding one more overnight and turning Tuesdays into overnights.

Any comments appreciated. Thanks in advance for reading the long post.
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Re: Upcoming motion for increasing custody

Unread postby afc » Wed Jul 12, 2017 12:44 pm

I don't know why you are so focused on the her calling it "home" thing. It is her home. Why the heck would that bother you to the point you have to mention it? Kid has two homes. Likely as not she calls your place "home" to tick off her mom when she's there.

So drop that. It is a non issue.

So much of this emotional crap is just normal teenage behavior. They can be petty, ungrateful, sullen jerks. It happens in divorced families and in intact ones. This is your first teenage daughter so it's new and weird but it isnt unusual. It passes.


Perhaps take Bart's timeless advice and start _now_ with the kind of relationship you want with D16 when she's an adult. You could force her to come, force her to behave a certain way but in 2 years you have no more leverage really.
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Re: Upcoming motion for increasing custody

Unread postby whatever_works » Wed Jul 12, 2017 1:00 pm

Perfect! Your advice is consistent with all the advice I have gotten from a couple other parents I respect very much. "Home" thing is a non issue. I mentioned it because she uses it to try to hurt me. It is a tell.

But I am concerned about the upcoming motion. Is my strategy of telling it as I see it the right one? I am saying that she is teenager and she rejects both parents. She is playing one against the other. I want to let her be and provide her support when I (or we) can. I want to tell the judge to focus on the D10.
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Re: Upcoming motion for increasing custody

Unread postby whatever_works » Thu Jul 13, 2017 10:20 am

No comments? Does that mean I am on the right track? Or is the message too long?
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Re: Upcoming motion for increasing custody

Unread postby Outis » Thu Jul 13, 2017 11:08 am

I don't see any change of circumstance or basis to warrant the modification, much less the appointment of a GAL.

Kudos for tenacity and pursuing it, but I'm feeling a bit like the judge - I don't get it, either.
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Re: Upcoming motion for increasing custody

Unread postby whatever_works » Thu Jul 13, 2017 12:16 pm

Outis wrote:I don't see any change of circumstance or basis to warrant the modification, much less the appointment of a GAL.

Kudos for tenacity and pursuing it, but I'm feeling a bit like the judge - I don't get it, either.


Valuable! I need to make a note of telling the lawyer to underscore change in circumstance.

When the temp order was issued, there was a phony DV charge and a CPS inquiry pending against me. Both have wrapped up now with a not guilty finding. We were both employed at the time and we have both been jobless and I now have a new job providing health insurance for the kids. I did not have a place to live at the time and now I rent a three level house in the same school district as mom. Is that the right way of thinking or am I on the wrong track? I can also mention school grades and children's emotional needs etc.

I've been waiting for a trial but 3 years later the trial is now set to take place in 6 months and a judgement will take another 2-6 months (this judge is infamous for being slow). The divorce would be final in another 6 months. Probably end of 2018.
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Re: Upcoming motion for increasing custody

Unread postby Outis » Thu Jul 13, 2017 12:38 pm

phony DV charge and a CPS inquiry pending

As soon as those ended, the modification to temporary orders is perfectly appropriate.

What I don't see, however, is any change that warrants appointing a GAL now after two previous attempts were denied.
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Re: Upcoming motion for increasing custody

Unread postby whatever_works » Thu Jul 13, 2017 1:01 pm

I mentioned it to my lawyer but he did not deem it appropriate to file a change of custody. The lawyer said that the judge is not going to modify the temp order at that time. It was a different judge and he (the judge) was in a rush to get to trial toward the end of last year. If he had not retired due to poor health, I might have had a trial by now.

The two previous GAL denials were by the old judge as well. The first denial was because he wanted to wait for the DV case. The second time he said that he would just do the trial. Importantly he did not even say no to the GAL. He just said he wanted to go to trial. That was about 8-10 months ago.
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Re: Upcoming motion for increasing custody

Unread postby whatever_works » Fri Jul 14, 2017 7:40 pm

My lawyer received an email from the OC with my children's latest report cards. Note says they will be using it in court for the motion. The report cards show A and B grades for my older girl with good comments. Two honors courses which I had to fight for. The younger girl's shows all 3's for meets expectations.

I guess the idea is that the girls are doing fine in school so no need for father time?

I would like the judge to compare with older report cards when they were doing better (with AP and Honors courses for the older girl). Mom put the older girl from AP in 9th grade to 504 plan in 10th grade.

Also, I don't think my wife has seen the 17 absent, 18 Tardy and 2 Dismissed on the older girl's report card!
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Re: Upcoming motion for increasing custody

Unread postby whatever_works » Mon Jul 17, 2017 2:40 pm

I had the hearing today. I was well prepared. I think the judge bought the premise for the motion. Whether or not he is going to increase my parenting time is anyone's guess now. Before seeing the judge wife offered to increase from Fri-Sun to Fri-Tue during the summer and to Fri-Mon during the school year. I agreed. She also agreed to the home buyout for me with a home inspection. Then her lawyer started writing it up and she changed her mind. The whole thing was canceled and we ended up in front of the judge.

My lawyer was majorly ticked off. As was I.

Then we spent all this time in front of the judge. We made a case for kids not being happy with the status quo. Too many school absences and tardy's on their report cards. Too many conflicts with the mom for D16. Her lawyer then made her out to be a saint who is offering me more time with the children. But he said that she is worried about the school year. Kids' grades are great and tardy's are not that much. The judge wanted all the details about splitting vacation time. We currently have nothing about splitting vacations and mom gets all the vacation time so he wrote all that down.

Now I wait for the judge. Whatever I get is going to be better than before.
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