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Old 04-04-2012, 09:47 AM
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shared custody

I thought of this on my other thread but wanted to create a new one so it was clearer...

AH's lawyer is proposing a 50/50 custody agreement which to me is heartwrenching/shocking/appalling/insane etc...

My lawyer is great and is not responding at all right now while we figure out first what will occur with the criminal charges on me BUT, I wanted to know what arrangements some of you have experienced with your ex's and custody.

I do a lot better when I know what the possibilities are vs feeling surprised with info so I thought who better to ask than people who've been through this.

I think that AH's lawyer might idiotically hope that I will agree to something with custody before the criminal case is dealt with and might think that I actually fear I'll be convicted. Little does he know that AH is the one who will wind up being slaughtered if it goes to a trial and I am banking on the criminal case turning into an advantage for me with custody. There is so much evidence of AH's abuse and the fact that I was arrested has ironically made HIS crap behavior become exposed which I think is the opposite of what he hoped for.
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Old 04-04-2012, 10:01 AM
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WTBH,

I really have no advice for you regarding custody as my children were much older when I divorced and my AH wasn't batsh!t crazy. But, I can't help my urge to express concern for your safety. When your AH starts to sense that his plan to destroy you isn't working (and he may already be sensing that), I believe he will ramp it up. There is no way to tell what he is planning next, so please keep far away from him. I fear for your safety and the safety of your children.

L
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Old 04-04-2012, 10:02 AM
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My experience, state guidelines on things like property settlement and custody/visitations are just that.. guidelines. They are where you start to negotiate. What you end up agreeing to is just that, what you agreed to.

My point is... don't agree to anything you're not comfortable with or it will end up being incorporated in writing into a divorce decree that a judge will eventually sign. Disobey that and you're in contempt.

I would tell my lawyer to tell his lawyer to pound sand, discussion closed. It would take a Judge to change my mind.
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Old 04-04-2012, 10:10 AM
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I responded in the other thread but I will say it again here.

We have shared legal custody.

I have primary physical custody.

There is a visitation agreement set forth by our state that we agreed too. It is basically every other weekend and one evening a week, alternate the holidays. If we live more then 200 miles apart (and we do now) it is that he gets the summer break and alternate Christmas break and spring break. It is a single spaced 7 page document and covers everything.

This was something we both agreed to and presented to the judge. The judge didn't decide it.

In hindsight I should have challenged the visitation based on his active alcoholism at the time but I did not. He has since moved out of state and does not ask for his summer visitation. If he did I'd have a problem with it and would have to look into my options.
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Old 04-04-2012, 10:25 AM
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I am not agreeing to a thing and as things stand he doesn't see them a lot and that's his choice. I have nothing whatsoever that allows me to keep the girls from him and my lawyer is great and totally gets my fear and agrees that AH is crazy and dangerous BUT has said that if I give him any room to accuse me of keeping the girls from him that courts are all too eager to find mothers guilty of alienating fathers and I am not to do anything that can be construed that way. So, I am not dropping the girls off and imploring him to see them but if he requests (through my mom bc he is not to contact me) to see them, I make it happen.

I am terrified of a Josh Powell type incident to be perfectly honest and I have no recourse that I have found to allow me to keep the girls from him completely. Child Protective Services has done nothing bc I have no "evidence" (ie: bloodied children and broken bones evidently). The cops LISTENED to my kids tell them they say AH hit and kick me and then saw ME arrested so clearly the police are not looking to protect kids.

AH is dangerous and all I can do is stay my course, not react, not play into his games and hope and pray that he self implodes and doesn't take out his rage when he can't get at me any longer, on the girls. There's a reason I was so afraid to leave for so long. My worst fears are precisely what he is doing.

There's a book that someone (maybe here?) recommended about angry and controlling men and also a book called Divorce Poison about divorcing someone who is nuts and evil and it's a case study of AH-- I swear he has it too and using it as a playbook.
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Old 04-04-2012, 10:45 AM
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I could write a book on this. God.

You want to ask for -- at maximum -- joint custody with the children in your primary custody. I have the same as Thumper, and that is the state guidelines for where I live. We adhere to the guidelines almost completely, with the only alterations being that XNPD has to notify me 48 hours before he plans to take DS12 out of the county, which I highly recommend. Oh, and the provision that if he wants to change the custody agreement, we have to attend and pay for mediation first. That wipes out all the lawyer bullying. "Joint custody" basically means that you have to notify your ex on serious decisions. My XNPD will turn this into everything, from whether DS12 will take guitar or piano lessons, or if he went to the nurse and I didn't give him a phone call.

Almost no judge will grant 50/50. It's not in the best interests of the children, period, even in a good situation. Your lawyer is calling their bluff. He doesn't want 50/50 anyway.
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Old 04-04-2012, 10:51 AM
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Mmm, another thing. My XNPD accused me of crazy, crazy stuff in the custody hearings. I don't know how I made it through it, honestly. But let your works speak for your character. Also make sure it is said clearly, and often, that while you want your children to have a healthy relationship with their father for their own well being, you fear for their safety because of his alcoholic drinking and his physically and emotionally abusive behavior. Mention that he refuses to enter treatment for either predicament. Document it, present it, and leave it to him to prove you wrong. He can't, so, *uck him.

Family court judges see this stuff all the time and are impatient with the grandstanding of vigilante parents. Really dig deep to find the strength of your integrity and HOLD ON. Fighting with a man who is unstable and motivated to take you down -- publicly -- is one of the most difficult things I've ever done.
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Old 04-04-2012, 12:03 PM
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No. Right now, you have the best chance you will ever have of protecting the children. Go for full custody with supervised visitations, based on his domestic violence charges. I didn't, and I've regretted it ever since.
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Old 04-04-2012, 12:23 PM
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His lawyer will, of course, try to get everything they think they can. AXH's lawyer started out asking for:
  • 50/50 custody and the related child support (at that schedule, I'd pay child support to AXH because I make more, because he keeps losing jobs...)
  • 1/2 of my pension and SS
  • he'd 'give' me 1/2 of his (how generous, there was / is NO pension or 401k and my SS is higher than his even though my current position doesn't pay into it - again because he keeps losing jobs.... )
  • he'd 'give' me a no-contact order IF I agree to make it mutual (instead of a restraining order against him)

I fell for the mutual no-contact switch; my 1st lawyer said that's a usual request and all the court is likely to grant. Turns out it's a standard tactic for attorney's for fathers in divorce and custody cases where a restraining order for DV was requested against the father. The 1st lawyer was more interested in 'settling' and letting the other lawyer draft paperwork, so the initial no-contact order was weighted a bit in AXH's favor.

I have sole legal custody and primary physical custody of DS. AXH lost his lawyer; I switched to a new one. AXH voluntarily gave up legal custody because he thought I'd drop the supervised visitation requirement; I believe he also thought it'd mean he didn't have to pay child support. The judge lauded him for knowing he's not 'that kind of father' and stated that he'd have awarded full legal custody to me any way.

As far as I can tell, the judge then crafted his own schedule for the supervised visitation, because no one else that I speak to has had this arrangement and I don't see it set forth in any form with the state court system. AXH gets DS from Noon Saturday to 4 pm Sunday, 2 of every 3 weekends. On the 3rd weekend he gets DS from 4:30 pm to 7 pm on Sunday. It most definitely is NOT what I proposed using the state forms. The judge then said that we could revise the schedule if we agreed to. Riiiiiiiight. AXH would make me beg for anything I wanted, negotiating to revise the schedule is going to work.

OK...I think I might be done venting....
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Old 04-04-2012, 12:37 PM
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Oh, I got way sidetracked.... I meant to add: research, research, research on your own. It's great to trust your lawyer, because you should be able to, but knowing what questions to ask helps things immensely. Like any person, they may assume we know because it's second nature to them, but we don't because we're not immersed in the system day in and day out.

Ask for your Best Case, the WHAT I WANT list (though maybe not the ULTIMATE want list, because mine was that AXH would just disappear..). Set a list of items you'd be willing to give on and put them in order of priority; share it with your attorney. Let him/her know, when X's group balks at the Best Case, I'd be willing to ease up THIS item first. Then THIS item... And have your attorney tell you what the absolute worst case could be and what a most likely case would be.

When I first joined, Coyote21 shared some of his advice on working through court hearings for custody. A main statement was: Be truthful. About everything.
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Old 04-04-2012, 01:01 PM
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((((WTBH))))

The book you are referring to is called "Why Does He Do That? Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men" by a man named Lundy Bancroft. There is a whole chapter called "Abusive Men as Parents", part of which discusses prepping for custody battles. The chapter following that one is entitled "Abusive Men and their Allies" which discusses how abusers manipulate therapists, evaluators, lawyers and the police. BUY THIS BOOK. It really opened my eyes.

I really hope this all works out for you.
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Old 04-04-2012, 01:53 PM
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While I don't have any personal experience with this, my boyfriend M is preparing to sue for full custody of his daughter (her mother is untreated borderline personality disorder and the environment/instability/emotional abuse that goes with it), and the most important thing in his eyes (and his father was a judge) is to keep the focus 100% on the safety and well-being (physically and mentally) of your children.

If you can keep your composure and keep the focus of your arguments and statements entirely on them, the vindictive parent will reveal himself, and if there's something a judge can't stand in custody battles it's a vindictive parent.

This is just what I've learned from talking with M, of course, but considering his background I figure it's useful.
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Old 04-04-2012, 06:17 PM
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Thank you all so so much. Going to print out this thread!
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Old 04-04-2012, 10:16 PM
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Hhhmmm. I am going to take a different stance here. Chances are high that if you agreed to joint custody,with you as the physical guardian, he will lose interest in a while. It'll cut into his drinking time, having the kids around for an entire weekend.

My exh is not an alcoholic, but when he came at me with the joint custody bit, I said "darn straight you'll take these kids, they are yours after all". It worked...took one less squabble off the table, and we ended up with our state's recommended arrangement anyway...similar to what others have described.

I played the reverse psychology game. It worked for me.
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Old 04-04-2012, 11:18 PM
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Tuffgirl's got a point.But I'm still waiting, after two years. Kids go to his house, he goes out partying with his friends. Leaves them alone, no babysitter. Some nights he comes home, some nights he doesn't. Some days he takes them to school, some days he calls them in sick because he's too drunk to drive them. But he's not letting them go.

I will say this: I have a shared custody deal. I agreed to it because I was stupid enough to believe that his stint in rehab was honest instead of just a stunt. I believed that having the responsibility of parenting would help him stay sober. It didn't.

What that HAS given me, though, is a situation where I wasn't the bad guy who prevented the kids from seeing their dad. On the contrary -- I allowed him the full single parenting experience. Which, of course, as a drinking man, he can't handle. Which means the kids are seeing him for what he is.

While that's a good thing -- them finding out that he cares about one thing and one thing only, drinking -- the bad thing is that legally, as long as he wants to have them half the time, the courts will let him. I've challenged it twice, and came away with "well, there's no evidence that they're being neglected and the law really only requires him to give them a bowl of rice and a glass of water three times a day in order for it to not be neglect."

So that's where I'm coming from when I'm saying -- you will NEVER have as good an opportunity to protect your children from an alcoholic parent as you do now.
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Old 04-05-2012, 03:33 AM
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Your state publishes the child support payment guidelines, look them up. He probably did the math with 50/50 then the every other weekend thing. I'm betting his motives are financial.
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Old 04-05-2012, 05:29 AM
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Your state publishes the child support payment guidelines, look them up. He probably did the math with 50/50 then the every other weekend thing. I'm betting his motives are financial.
Yeah, most of the time, they say they want 50/50 so they won't be responsible for child support. Child support is typically figured by a formula that is based partially on the number of overnights spent at each parents' house.

Chances are high that if you agreed to joint custody,with you as the physical guardian, he will lose interest in a while. It'll cut into his drinking time, having the kids around for an entire weekend.
IME, a guy with the narcissist/sociopath tendencies may be motivated to exercise visitation time in order to punish you, groom the kids, and keep up a defensible "good guy" cover. This is how it was with mine. If he was just an A, he'd probably fade out of their lives, but the narcissist/sociopath stuff throws a wrench in it. Bank on him being unpredictable, is my feeling, which is all the more reason that the kids should be with you.
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Old 04-05-2012, 07:08 AM
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Bingo!

That's precisely what I see him doing. And I fear that in my attempts to protect the girls he will do whatever he can to paint me as "alienating him" and I may lose the girls myself. I don't know which is worse... Doing that and risking losing them or giving them over freely to him and fearing for their safety constantly.
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Old 04-05-2012, 10:24 AM
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Do you have any records of how little time he has spent with them? If not you need to show that he was NOT spending anything close to 50/50 with them even before "the incident". If he was only seeing them on day a week then that is the "status quo". All attorneys tell men to ask for 50/50 to avoid paying CS and to make themselves look good. Get any proof you have showing that he was not interested in seeing them more often.
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Old 04-05-2012, 10:28 AM
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Originally Posted by hadenoughnow View Post
Do you have any records of how little time he has spent with them? If not you need to show that he was NOT spending anything close to 50/50 with them even before "the incident". If he was only seeing them on day a week then that is the "status quo". All attorneys tell men to ask for 50/50 to avoid paying CS and to make themselves look good. Get any proof you have showing that he was not interested in seeing them more often.
I have my own records as documentation and have been told (and I totally see it) that while documentation is good, it can easily be dismissed by his lawyer as fabricated and turn into a he said/she said.

AH is a pathological liar and yet accuses me any chance he can of lying.

I continue to document everything but am not holding my breath that it will be worth anything.
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