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Custody issues - how did you do it?

Old 01-22-2011, 08:40 AM
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Custody issues - how did you do it?

I read a thread a day or so ago that stirred up one of my biggest fears... If/when AH and I are no longer together, how do I protect my children from being alone with him? How do you PROVE to a judge that he is the alcoholic you KNOW him to be? My AH has never been a hands on dad - doesn't know anything about changing diapers or the special diet our 3yo is on - he's really never been a dad to them at all. Most of his days are spent drinking or passed out/sleeping in the bedroom away from the kids. And often even when he is in the room he doesn't acknowledge either of them. But in the event we are no longer together and he decides to fight for them or time with them, how do I keep them safe? They are too little to speak for themselves (we have a toddler and preschooler). I have no money and no resources. My fear of what could happen to them is 99% of why I stay with him now, but I don't know how much longer I can continue...

Thanks for any advice or stories you can share.
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Old 01-22-2011, 08:58 AM
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First, start keeping a written log of each incident of drinking and what transpires, it's called CYA.

Then when you do finally get to court you ask for "Supervised" Visitation. When you get your attorney it will be explained to you.

But start logging everything. HIs falling down, his verbal abuse, his falling asleep on the couch early in evening, his coming home late, his disregard for the kids, his disregard for helping around the house, etc

Makes a he!! of a record for the court.

Please keep posting and let us know how you are doing as we do care very much.

Love and hugs,
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Old 01-22-2011, 10:44 AM
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I don't know US laws, I know they're very different from UK laws where custody is concerned, but I'll second the importance of keeping an accurate log of ALL events, good, bad or indifferent concerning your kids and their dad.
Keep it factual and don't include your feelings, unless it's genuine fear for your childrens safety.
A (UK) solicitor told me that theres a lot of weight in these logs because it shows one parent has 'bothered' to keep the record of what happens and if it all reads the same and includes dates where other agencies (police etc) then it's one of the best gauges they can get (they being the courts)
I still keep one for Joe, and I include all contact, letters, gifts, money gifts, phone calls and times, visits, in fact anything at all concerning him and contact however indirect with this person.
I don't put anything personal in it, like how it makes me feel or what I think of it. I come here for that, or write it in my own diary/journal.
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Old 01-22-2011, 11:15 AM
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Second all of the above.
That was my biggest fear, too -- that my AH, with his standing in the community where we lived and all his high-end professional contacts and his family money would be able to outlawyer me and take the kids away from me. After all, I was the one who had a record of therapy and antidepressants, not him, kwim? I went as far as to talk to a friend with connections in organized crime to ask how much it would cost me to pay someone to kidnap the kids back, should AH manage to get them through the court system. I didn't, however, contact a lawyer. Which is the first thing I would recommend that you do.

My situation escalated until the point where I was running with the kids in the middle of the night, file a restraining order, and at that point, losing the kids was no longer a fear -- there were police officers who had been involved and witnessed both my fear and AH's irrationality and drunkenness.

And once it got to that point, I found the court system extremely supportive and helpful. I've been one of those who didn't have much faith in it, but it has served me very, very well.

The point of all of this? Consult a lawyer first. My attorney was able to tell me not only the obvious stuff that's unacceptable (it's good to have someone point those things out to you anyway, because after living with an alcoholic, we tend to lose sight of what "normal" is), but also the stuff that a court would consider.

That fear that you have, I remember well. I think that fear alone kept me in the marriage for years past the point where I knew I was done and ready to leave. And it's hell on earth. It really is. And I send you good vibes and thoughts and prayers to get you through it.
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Old 01-22-2011, 03:58 PM
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Thank you so much for your responses!!! I have been keeping a journal of sorts, but it definitely is filled with my feelings about what's been happening on any given day. I have several video recordings of him, too, when he's passed out or so drunk he can't get off the floor. I've tried to capture a couple of his nasty tirades (yelling, cursing, belittling me to my face or once out in the front yard - unprovoked, he was just mad that I found empty bottles he hid in the garage...) but that has not gone well, unless he's so drunk he doesn't notice the camera. And I keep printouts of his account that show his purchases - he doesn't know I have access. I keep everything hidden, hoping that if it ever becomes necessary the stuff I have captured will be helpful to keep my children safe. What a way to live

I'm glad to hear that there is something I can do. The thought of him being alone with the kids, too drunk to take care of them scares me more than anything. I will start keeping a general log of the good and bad - and maybe even continue with my journal (it can be theraputic at times).

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Old 01-22-2011, 05:24 PM
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Continue with the journal, recently I read thru mine, and I have some rather disturbing accounts of his behavior saved in it(I use a completely private online journal)tried keeping a paper one, and he found it one night while drunk and enjoyed laughing at what I'd written. I even found some old posts I'd made on another messageboard, talking about his drinking, and I cut/pasted them into the journal.

do you have an old cell phone around? Last night I did some "voice notes" recording of him, not many, but enough that you get the gist of his ranting.
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Old 01-22-2011, 07:02 PM
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I personally don't know exactly how to handle this.
I didn't put my "baby daddy" on my son's birth certificate or anything, he get's my son when I say he can. He lost his privilages of keeping him over the whole weekend, now he gets him for a few hours on sundays. He know's if he doesn't listen to me and i go threw the courts to get him on his birth certificate and get child support that he would have to give me 4/5/6x the amount of child support I am currently getting (i really havn't gotten any yet, my son is 6 month old and when i found out his new "wife" is pregnant i told him i'm going for child support because when that baby comes my son will be screwed out of everything. Supposed to get his "child support" starting next month). With is new baby with his new wife he wouldn't be able to afford that.
Anyways sorry for me babbling...
If you do ever do seperate and you can PROVE to the courts that he is an unfit dad he can get either no visitation or supervised visitation if you wouldn't want him to be alone with your 3yo. It's a long process my not-so-normal way works pretty good, if only his dad knew how to be on time.


Goodluck


edit: sorry this was very unnessisary, i did not read other peoples replies first
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Old 01-22-2011, 07:11 PM
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I used to do the same, printing my AHs debit card statements from our online banking. Literally, every other purchase was a liquor store or bar. As far as your kids, I would take everyone's advice and gather proof so he would have supervised visits. I say this because my AH has two kids from a previous relationship and I spent countless Sundays driving them the 15 miles home after they came to spend the day with their father and he spent the day with Budweiser and football. I know it was enabling but I'm 99% sure there were many a night he would have wrapped them all around a telephone pole.
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Old 01-22-2011, 07:14 PM
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All the above. I kept a hand written 20 pages+ legal pad log over a 12 month period to show my lawyer, dates/times etc., he showed the judge, her (axw) lawyer got it thrown out, but the judge had already read it. Can't unread something. I kept it in a ziplock under my truck bed liner, funny now, but it got wet and was covered in mold when I finally needed it.

I had CPS and my 5yo had a state appointed "advocate", a guardian ad lidum lawyer thingie. I don't know where the hell he came from, but he was a big help.

There is also these people, casa - Google Search
they tried to get me to sign up with them for free, but I already felt like I had "To many Chiefs and not enough Indians", if you know what I mean. Probably not politically correct, but very descriptive. My apologies if you are Native American. God help me get over this PC problem I have.

If all else fails, most alcoholics aren't THAT interested in child rearing in my experience, it severely cuts into their drinking time. Plus, the first over night visitation, just call the police for a wellness check on your 3yo, after about 10pm, he'll be drunk, and problem solved. Alcoholics aren't very dependable, but they are VERY predictable.

Thanks and God bless us all,
Coyote
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Old 01-22-2011, 07:37 PM
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Please keep the ideas coming. I've had some incidents over the past 24 hours that seriously make me consider my options here.
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Old 01-22-2011, 11:15 PM
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I'm afraid I don't have any advice for you, but I wanted to weigh in with some support. I'm in a fairly similar situation and my heart goes out to you. I think it's a good idea to talk to a lawyer if you can afford one to get an idea of your options, and what type of documentation will be admissable.
Good luck, and keep posting here to let us know how it's going and how you're doing. ((hugs)) and well wishes from NC.
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Old 01-23-2011, 09:35 AM
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I can't say how much everyone's posts mean to me regarding this situation!!! I get more encouraged (even empowered a little) with each suggestion. My worry about 'what if' has really be paralyzing.

corkel - I wish I could say every other purchase was booze. It's more like 5 booze purchases to one for groceries or bills, sometimes more.

Alexis - your post wasn't uneccesary Hopefully the information everyone is sharing will help others in a similar situation.

Coyote - thanks SOOOOO much for the info you shared! And the fact you are also in Texas is a bonus - hopefully the stuff that helped you will also be helpful for my situation... I've read several of your posts about your daughter (LMC I think..?) She's lucky to have you as a father I will definitely check out the link you provided. I have NO money for lawyers, so knowing what other options are out there is helpful.

Please keep sharing ideas, suggestions, links, whatever! I know I'm not the only one in this situation. I've been paralyzed by fear for so long, and hearing how others have made it through this type of situation (and the resources available) is giving me hope...and the determination I need. Thanks
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Old 01-23-2011, 12:01 PM
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Originally Posted by ShiningStars View Post
I can't say how much everyone's posts mean to me regarding this situation!!! I get more encouraged (even empowered a little) with each suggestion. My worry about 'what if' has really be paralyzing.

corkel - I wish I could say every other purchase was booze. It's more like 5 booze purchases to one for groceries or bills, sometimes more.

Alexis - your post wasn't uneccesary Hopefully the information everyone is sharing will help others in a similar situation.

Coyote - thanks SOOOOO much for the info you shared! And the fact you are also in Texas is a bonus - hopefully the stuff that helped you will also be helpful for my situation... I've read several of your posts about your daughter (LMC I think..?) She's lucky to have you as a father I will definitely check out the link you provided. I have NO money for lawyers, so knowing what other options are out there is helpful.

Please keep sharing ideas, suggestions, links, whatever! I know I'm not the only one in this situation. I've been paralyzed by fear for so long, and hearing how others have made it through this type of situation (and the resources available) is giving me hope...and the determination I need. Thanks

I just read this again, and I thought of another thing I was told.
If you have a genuine opportunity to involve agencies such as the police, social services, school, or anyone involved with your child or anyone else do it, because it'll be on record.

I hope you don't need to, but you know, the record will be there if you ever do.
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Old 01-23-2011, 03:47 PM
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Get a digital voice recorder and put it in your pocket every time you are around your ex.
Do this for your own protection not with the intention of catching them misbehaving.
Here is the one I use;
Amazon.com: Sony ICD-PX820 Digital Voice Recorder (Black): Electronics

The software it comes with will convert any recording to an MP3 that can be sent via the net to your lawyer.
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Old 01-23-2011, 05:55 PM
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Originally Posted by hurtandangry View Post
Get a digital voice recorder and put it in your pocket every time you are around your ex.
Do this for your own protection not with the intention of catching them misbehaving.
Here is the one I use;
Amazon.com: Sony ICD-PX820 Digital Voice Recorder (Black): Electronics

The software it comes with will convert any recording to an MP3 that can be sent via the net to your lawyer.
Just an FYI, you might want to check with your lawyer about the laws concerning recording someone without their knowledge. It wouldn't do for you to have a recording you have made for your own protection used as a basis for a criminal charge or a civil suit against you!
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Old 01-23-2011, 06:30 PM
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a) Document everything, in point form, with time and date stamps, detailing events and abuse. Keep said documentation safe. Financial records are especially useful.
b) Call the Bar Association in your area and find out which family law lawyers give free over the phone conversation. Write down a point form list of questions you have pertaining to custody (such as: is it legal to present a recorded conversation at a custody hearing?). Call *several* lawyers to get their lay of the land.
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Old 01-23-2011, 06:33 PM
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Call *several* lawyers to get their lay of the land.
Actually, if you live in a small town, you can figure out who the best family lawyers are, and then do a consult with each of them. That way, the ex can't use any of those lawyers since they've consulted with you. Not that I'd know anything about that.
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Old 01-23-2011, 06:37 PM
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Not that I'd know anything about that.
hehehehehehehe
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Old 01-23-2011, 06:56 PM
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I have a digital journal of all drinking activity. I keep it in an online Google Doc so it's 100% secure and can't be lost or stolen. I kept any receipts I found for alcohol, and when the receipts disappeared I started taking date-stamped photos of the empty alcohol bottles (again, saving them on a secure online account). I have some video from a couple of really bad episodes as well. In my mind, evidence is evidence and the whole point is to eliminate any reasonable doubt as to the alcoholic's condition.
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Old 01-23-2011, 07:45 PM
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When I kept my journal, some one suggested I not record my "tender little feelings", the judge didn't want to know "how I felt".

I put date, time, and one or two sentences:

1-22-11; Tuesday afternoon, 2:35pm. Cell phone call, wife was obviously drunk and slurring her words. Became combative, verbally abusive and slammed down phone.

1-22-11 Tuesday afternoon, 2:40-2:50pm. 25 raging drunken voice mails saved. Chose NOT to engage.

Thanks and God bless us all,
Coyote
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