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Co-Parenting Plan No Longer Works, Legal Limbo, Need Advice

Old 09-30-2019, 11:57 AM
  # 41 (permalink)  
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XAH is out of rehab as of this weekend, and other than a brief visit at a park with me and DD8 on Saturday, there have been no real attempts at resuming visitations from him or his parents. To my knowledge he's more or less homeless at the moment, and maintains that he was released without an offer to go somewhere else. He "has calls in" to a halfway house, he says, which is curious because the last four times he went to rehab they tried to place him before he was released. Sure, maybe they discharged him with no real plans, but I think I can guess how it actually went. I told him that I was job hunting and exploring work outside of town and maybe even outside of the state. He was not shocked. I told him that if he was limiting himself to local sobriety resources (we have few where we live) to not do so on our account. So maybe that's an option for him. I don't know.

So I'm sitting on my hands. It seems like there's no way for us to continue with supervised visitation as we have before now, but what it's going to look like in the future, I have no idea.

There was a moment in the park where I overheard some other parents talking and I realized that I was not the only mom in that park supervising a visit with a dad. So that was interesting.

You know, I do feel bad for him. I go back and forth on my feelings for him a lot because we have so much history and I remember when our relationship was good, because it was good once. So, it's sad, I guess, to see how far he's fallen. He knows what he needs to do, but has few tools to work with, he's so disconnected from any social life or support system, he's an adult in years only. The contrasts between us are just huge.

When I finally kicked him out once and for all, I threw myself into therapy and cleaning up my life literally and metaphorically so I could be present for my kids and find a way to live a happy life no matter what he or my toxic FOO was up to. And it really paid off for me, truly. It was worth every dollar paid for therapy and every tear cried. It was extremely painful work, but it was work worth doing. I have a good job now, I know my capabilities (and my limits), I have wonderful friends, a promising future, an excellent relationship with my kids, and finally, I have boundaries. Oh, the joys of boundaries.

My house is planning road trip for Fall Break in a couple of weekends, so that's something to look forward to. We're all in counseling again to help us figure out this new phase, I'm job hunting and finishing up a lot of craft and DIY projects at my house. It's still warm out during the day, but the nights are crisp and the leaves are starting to turn.
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Old 10-01-2019, 07:27 AM
  # 42 (permalink)  
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I am glad you have your boundaries in place and are focused on you and your children. Big hugs.
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Old 10-05-2019, 06:36 PM
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Originally Posted by Sasha1972 View Post
Somebody above asked about the research on children with alcoholic parents - here's some of the gold-standard research and reviews of research. This is pretty academic; for something more accessible look for the work of Dr Michael Ungar and the Resilience Research Centre in Canada.

The takeaway: children of alcoholics are at greater than average risk of developing psychological problems and poor coping behaviors. However, they aren't doomed, and there are protective factors that contribute to good outcomes, especially but not only a stable and consistent attachment to another adult in a caring capacity.


Werner, E. E. (1986). Resilient offspring of alcoholics: a longitudinal study from birth to age 18. Journal of studies on alcohol, 47(1), 34-40.

Werner, E. E., & Johnson, J. L. (2004). The role of caring adults in the lives of children of alcoholics. Substance Use & Misuse, 39(5), 699-720.

Park, S., & Schepp, K. G. (2015). A systematic review of research on children of alcoholics: Their inherent resilience and vulnerability. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 24(5), 1222-1231.

Velleman, R., & Orford, J. (2013). Risk and resilience: Adults who were the children of problem drinkers. Routledge.

Wlodarczyk, O., Schwarze, M., Rumpf, H. J., Metzner, F., & Pawils, S. (2017). Protective mental health factors in children of parents with alcohol and drug use disorders: A systematic review. PloS one, 12(6), e0179140.
thank you for your sharing this.
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Old 10-07-2019, 06:21 AM
  # 44 (permalink)  
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XAH emailed me last week trying to resume regular supervised visits at his parents' house. I emailed him back with two requests, needing to know his current address (he said he wasn't living there and I suspected he was either lying and secretly living with his parents or homeless - he is homeless, they say they have kicked him out for good, but I think there's a limit - we've done this before and they will let him back in after a few weeks usually) and needing to speak with him and his parents to ensure we are on the same page about some minor concerns with the visits. For a normal person, these answers would have taken fifteen seconds, but instead he ghosted me. Went totally silent.

After a couple of days, I called his sister (who has always been good to me and is his only immediate family member who understands the seriousness of XAH's addiction) and asked her, is he homeless? She confirmed. This is a new low. We chatted for a bit just about how crazy this situation is, and she suggested I invite him for a coffee to see if I could help get him out of his car and into step-down treatment. The rationalization was, he came back to this town, which has no treatment infrastructure, to be close to our daughter, thinking I would resume visits without asking any questions. Crazy talk. I was going to tell him in person to go wherever the recovery infrastructure is and I would facilitate continued communication with DD8, whatever that looks like going forward.

As I'm typing this out, I'm seeing how stupid this is.

I am worried because he is making gestures toward wanting to exercise his visitation, and the lawyers I spoke to told me to facilitate visits whenever possible within reason. But what this means in practice, I have no idea. There's no handbook for how to maintain healthy supervised visitation when your ex is a homeless alcoholic. I was envisioning that we meet in a park or other public place for short visits for the time being, but who knows. Our custody agreement as written doesn't really apply right now since his living situation changed, but since he doesn't have a new, stable situation to write one around, we are in this crazy limbo period - but I'm supposed to be this stand-up citizen that plays fair with crazy people. Sometimes I can't even tell which direction is up with them, they gaslight me so much.

Long story short, I contacted him for coffee, offered to buy, told him I knew he was living out of his car, so "don't let your secret be a barrier to meeting me because I already know" basically. Little did I know he would see this message as a VENGEFUL ATTACK. He messaged his sister and accused her of speaking with me. She then messaged me, angry because I unintentionally outed her - she's not "allowed" to speak to me, per XAH and his parents. And now she's "devastated" because... because it's crazy and she's still locked in their sick system. I fell on my sword. I think this is all stupid, but I apologized to her for putting her in the situation by... telling the truth... and she's ghosting me now as well. So okay.

They basically have a pact to lie to protect XAH, and she's in trouble and bad because she broke it. That's what all this is. I'm bad and in trouble now because I am being lied to wrong.

I should have sat on my hands and just let him ghost me - I can't facilitate visitations with someone who doesn't return calls, emails, or texts - but I let my anxiety and codependency get the best of me and made a mess by initiating and forcing a conversation nobody else was interested in having.

But I'm still back to square one. I have been given this vague advice by these lawyers and I'm trying to interpret what that means. It turns out there are few addiction resources out there for parents in this situation. Part of my concern was logistics and timing - I am a busy person, I volunteer, work full time, and have commitments and engagements, so if he wanted to slide in a visit with DD8, I needed to have that conversation yesterday or it would be next week before I could make more time to meet with him/them. I don't want to be accused of being flippant with their requests - they have rights, we have a legal agreement I need to respect - AND DD8 wants to see them and is looking around like, where are they? XAH and his parents have been MIA for about six weeks. XAH's parents are super wealthy and could bury me if they were motivated.

Anyway. Just here for ESH - if you've been in a situation like this or have suggestions for me, I am open.
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Old 10-07-2019, 08:45 AM
  # 45 (permalink)  
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Why are you chasing him for visitation. So far all he's done is send you one email.

Him visiting your DD is half your responsibility - the other half is his, yet he sends one email which starts a series of drama.

Yes, you have a legal responsibility as set out in your custody agreement. The fact that he changed his living arrangements to homeless in a car is not your problem/concern.

You asked for 2 things. His address and meeting with the parents to lay down some new ground rules. Until such time as he comes up with these two things (or at least the meeting) I would just ignore him. I would email him, say I am not interested in getting involved in family drama, just need to set up a meeting with your parents to lay down some new ground rules now that you are no longer living there (it's important to document that in the email in case you need to refer to it later), when you have set up a meeting, let me know. Perhaps follow that with say, two times you are available next week.

Done. No need to follow up, the ball is then in his court.

His parents having money is kind of irrelevant. You've done nothing wrong, they can't actually come after you about, anything.
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Old 10-07-2019, 04:19 PM
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Why did you contact him and offer to buy him coffee? Why do you want to know whether he's homeless?

Why are you taking the initiative to get in touch with his sister?

You can't get out of a crazy situation until you remove yourself, and that means not "reaching out" to him or any of his family members. If you are having a lot of anxiety about his situation ... wait. It will pass. You do not need to know as much about him as you want to know right now.

As for visitation, this is what I gave my ex and had incorporated into a court order (in other words, a judge agreed with it):

I am willing to supervise one thirty-minute visit per week in a public place. Ex is responsible for initiating arrangements for a visit. I will agree to more visits supervised by a third party acceptable to both of us. That third party is responsible for contacting me directly to arrange visits. (and then a lot of stuff about SoberLink).
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Old 10-08-2019, 05:56 AM
  # 47 (permalink)  
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My daughter's counselor encouraged me to just talk to them - in part so it's on the record that I have attempted to initiate visits because of how our custody agreement is written - and so I reached out. I am also curious, and because of the sudden silence my anxiety is out of control. That's on me and I need to get on top of it. But as far as my counselor was concerned I did my part and it was just as chaotic and stupid as it ever was, so I'm done with that going forward.

How did you introduce Soberlink to the courts/your case? We don't currently use Soberlink in my area and so my attempts to get it folded in to my case have been unsuccessful. Was it something you and your ex agreed on, or is it something your family courts already do? Who pays for it?
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Old 10-08-2019, 06:31 AM
  # 48 (permalink)  
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Are you keeping a journal/calendar/documentation of all of this?

At least now you know that his sister, while probably well-intentioned, can't be relied on or trusted. I had a very similar issue with my ex's sister - she seemed well-intentioned and was a help for a while (sort of...), but in the end she was still very much enmeshed in the family dysfunction, which ended up causing more drama and trouble for me. I am "no contact" with her now.

It seems like the ball is in their court now. If the grandparents want to see kiddo, they know how to contact you. It's time for you to work on your anxiety about all this (believe me, I get it - I have been in very similar circumstances) and set some boundaries.

While my ex was homeless/MIA, I would meet him at a local playground for about a hour each week. He would hang out with the kids, I would read and watch from the parking lot, and the kids would play. One of my boundaries was that I had to have at least 48 hours' notice before we would meet.

Good luck, and keep us posted.
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Old 10-08-2019, 07:10 AM
  # 49 (permalink)  
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At least now you know that his sister, while probably well-intentioned, can't be relied on or trusted. I had a very similar issue with my ex's sister - she seemed well-intentioned and was a help for a while (sort of...), but in the end she was still very much enmeshed in the family dysfunction, which ended up causing more drama and trouble for me.
This is spot-on. And after interacting with her this weekend, I am getting whiffs that she might herself have a drinking problem. So.
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Old 10-08-2019, 09:36 AM
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Re SoberLink - it's not widely used in my area either (completely new to judge), but I made the case that having an objective, tested-and-vetted, third-party determination of whether or not ex had been drinking would be beneficial to all parties. Specifically:

1. It's a bright-line distinction - either he produces a clean sample at the agreed-on time or he doesn't. No more arguing, negotiating, trying to figure out if he looks drunk or not. SoberLink does it for you.

2. It takes the burden of decision-making out of my hands. Compliant SoberLink test? The visit goes ahead. Anything other than a compliant SoberLink test? The visit is off. This minimizes the need for communication.

3. It enables the monitored party to build up an objective record of his sobriety. This is in his interest. If he wants to come back to court six months later and argue for more time with Kid, having six months of perfect compliance with SoberLink will put him in a better position.

4. It is foolproof (has been tested in court, used in workplaces for monitoring employees, etc etc - SoberLink can give you all the publicity stuff).

I argued that ex should pay for it because his behavior has created the need for it (i.e. it wasn't me that showed up drunk at my kid's school). The judge went for this.

I also built in a 30-minute "grace period" for testing, to cover any "technical issues" (I can't find my phone, the bus was late, the wind blew the internet away, I just had a fluoride treatment, etc). Thirty minutes is more than enough time to resolve any legitimate issue. SoberLink customer support was also really helpful in verifying (or not) ex's complaints about alleged "technical problems" preventing him from testing when he was supposed to.

Ex HATED it and kept taking me to court to try to get rid of it. But he kept failing. Judges could see that SoberLink is fair to both sides, it's objective and neutral, and it does not impose any unreasonable burden on the monitored party. And as time went by, and the number of SoberLink screwups piled up (failed tests, tests not submitted, tests outside the 30-minutes window, etc), judges were even less inclined to give him much credence.
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Old 10-15-2019, 12:35 PM
  # 51 (permalink)  
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We had a great vacation up north where it was mighty cold and the leaves were turning.

My ex and his family have made no attempt to contact us at all, meanwhile, so I spoke with my lawyer today and he confirmed everything y'all told me here: be accommodating within reason if they request visitations, but don't chase them about visits. I've been more than accommodating, I have nothing to worry about.

We're at about eight weeks since he went into rehab this time, and he's only made gestures at seeing DD8. She has stopped asking about him and stopped expressing sadness about seeing him, but still wants more TLC from me. I'm giving it to her, lots of hugs and cuddles and reading time. She has had questions about how many times he's been before (more than five) and whether it worked before (for awhile) and why he is, in her words, "hiding." She asked where he was living, and I didn't have the heart to tell her on the streets, so I said the next best thing, I don't know.

I admit I'm furious this time. I want to box their ears, him, his parents, and his sister, for being so clueless and resistant to professional help, for enabling him to this point, for leaving DD8 to wonder wtf is going on and why they won't even pick up the phone for her. I know it's a family disease, I know it's a sick system, I know this is exactly how it works. But I'm disgusted with them and this wretched, unacceptable, and immature behavior.
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Old 10-15-2019, 05:40 PM
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I know it's a family disease, I know it's a sick system, I know this is exactly how it works. But I'm disgusted with them and this wretched, unacceptable, and immature behavior.]
I totally hear you here. My ex's family is just as sick as he is. I too was just as sick when I drank the koolaid and was so incredibly codependent, but I have been working very hard on myself for many years.

The sooner you can totally, radically accept that this is who they are, the better off you'll be. I've gotten to the point where nothing surprises me anymore about Their behavior. My ex's mom bought a VERY nice house for my ex and his affair girlfriend, AFTER he showed up at my kids' school drunk to pick them up, and is now actively conspiring against me in the divorce process. And that's just the tip of the iceberg.

Listen to your lawyer, find support for yourself, and protect your kids. We're here for you.
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Old 10-16-2019, 06:35 AM
  # 53 (permalink)  
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This, this, this!!! I hate to see people get their hopes in in dealing with a qualifiers family. It just rarely ever happens in any positive way, because normally they are just as sick as the addict with codependency or their own issues. Blood is thicker than water, always.

Huge, huge hugs.

Originally Posted by TropicalWinter View Post
I totally hear you here. My ex's family is just as sick as he is. I too was just as sick when I drank the koolaid and was so incredibly codependent, but I have been working very hard on myself for many years.

The sooner you can totally, radically accept that this is who they are, the better off you'll be. I've gotten to the point where nothing surprises me anymore about Their behavior. My ex's mom bought a VERY nice house for my ex and his affair girlfriend, AFTER he showed up at my kids' school drunk to pick them up, and is now actively conspiring against me in the divorce process. And that's just the tip of the iceberg.

Listen to your lawyer, find support for yourself, and protect your kids. We're here for you.
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Old 10-16-2019, 12:18 PM
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Five years ago, my codie recovery muscles were much more conditioned, I am seriously out of shape now. His family and I had been talking more recently and it felt like we were in agreement more recently, which was good because I could at least get a glimpse behind the curtain and was feeling like I was doing a good job co-parenting in an impossible situation. It's really hard to co-parent with an active addict whose parents are determined to hide his addiction from me, and who I have to hand my daughter to for days and nights with no information to assess. It felt like trying to remain cordial was fine. But now in hindsight it was "fine" because they thought I was in the "everything's fine" fold instead of the "we all acknowledge XAH's serious addiction" fold, which never existed.

I mean, it's all crazy. And I forgot just how crazy I feel when I'm close to it. I'm backpedaling hard now but my emotions have been so triggered by all of it and I need to go do wind sprints or something to get the nervous energy out of me.
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Old 10-30-2019, 09:00 AM
  # 55 (permalink)  
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Many changes happening right now. I'm expecting to hear back from a potential employer out of state about a job offer. I'm just waiting for a salary number before I know whether or not it is feasible to sell my house and move. Doing a ton of research to find out where to look for housing, what kind of options are available to me, can I sell my house?? No easier way to get distance from a disaster alcoholic ex husband than to move two states away, I guess.

Not that it matters at this point. XAH hasn't made a move to see or talk to DD8 in any real capacity, nor have his parents or sister. He called me one time to try to make me feel sorry for him and yell about his rights, when I told him that the visitation supervisors (his parents) and I must be on speaking terms and to let me know when we could sit down again and talk about expectations regarding resuming supervised visitations (advised by my lawyer, to clarify sleeping arrangements and what "supervised" means), he disappeared again. I'm assuming that his parents are stonewalling - they are as crazy and irrational as he is. Meanwhile, he's "camping," aka "living out of his car," aka homeless and refusing traditional transitional housing options, which is insane to me, but here we are. First snow of the season is predicted tomorrow.

I shouldn't be shocked that it was this easy for his entire family to ghost DD8, but I am. She has so many questions about it, and she's angry and doesn't totally understand. She wants to see him and doesn't get that he isn't asking to see her. It sucks and I hate this for her.

She is piqued by the idea of moving. My partner is also excited about the idea and is job hunting there as well in case I get good news. We live in a pocket of progress in a very depressed state and are excited about the possibility to be in a more active area, with more culture, more jobs, more restaurants and museums and outdoor activities. I'm not sure that DD8 gets the full picture of what it would mean for us to move, but I am confident that it wouldn't be a bad thing for her.

I am also deeply, deeply motivated to get some distance between me and this morass of dysfunction. Most of my peers moved away after school, and those of us that didn't were stuck here thanks to complicated family and custody stuff. For those of us that stayed, there is lots of recreational drug and alcohol use and other means of escapism - which helped obscure the depth and breadth of XAH's addiction to me for a long time because it was kind of "normal." Even among my friends here, who are awesome and who I will miss, there is a generational feeling that the grass is truly greener somewhere else, and after living my whole life in a five mile radius, I want to find out. So I don't know, I'm waiting and dreaming about living other lives a little bit, and if I can make the money make sense we're going to do it.
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Old 10-30-2019, 11:00 AM
  # 56 (permalink)  
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Iím glad you have the chance to move, given what you say is going on where you live now (economic stagnation, substance abuse, etc). Growing up in a setting where people have more hope and do more with their lives will be really important for your daughter. From the experiences of a couple of friends recently, Iíve really become aware of how adolescent and young adults adapt to the expectations of those around them - their peer group - no matter what may be the case for their immediate family. Really, really important to be in a place where negativity and apathy are not the ďnormalĒ. Aspirations are contagious.

(My friendsí kids live in a small rural area thatís hurting economically, everybodyís life happens within the same five miles, everyone who can get out has done so and the ones who are left donít aspire to much more than a life spent bouncing from one low-paid, low-skill job to another, helped along by copious amounts of alcohol and meth - the very things that are preventing them from being able to succeed at school or work).
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Old 10-30-2019, 01:28 PM
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I really hope that works out for you, it sounds like a great opportunity to leave the madness behind.

I'm sure it is confusing for your Daughter, one minute she has a Dad (albeit unreliable) and the next minute he disappears, has to be a bit unnerving. I'm glad she has you! You can be her rock.

Keep us updated on the job / potential move please!
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Old 11-15-2019, 09:25 AM
  # 58 (permalink)  
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I accepted the job and will be moving about 200 miles northeast in mid-December. It's more money, more responsibility, a good move for me. Colder and more wintery, but also bigger and more culture - them's the breaks. I'm documenting this legal change process in case someone else needs some insight in the future.

XAH and his family haven't made any attempts to contact us since last time. I have no idea where XAH is, where he's living. He was supposed to go into some kind of transitional housing after this last stint in rehab, whether a halfway house or just housing for the homeless, but I know he had a whole list of reasons for his folks why he wasn't going to do that, i.e. he's not sober.

DD8 is still hurt and angry because she has, up until mid-August, had a regular relationship with her dad and now it's POOF. Gone. All of this was dependent on his parents' willingness to supervise visitation by order of the court. After his "medical incident" in August, he went to rehab, parents said he couldn't come back home, and we entered this legal limbo. After talking with two lawyers who told me that I was going to get yanked around by his family with their off and on approach to having a relationship with DD8, I started looking at moving/changing jobs. I could sit on my hands and do nothing and wait for them to contact me and have us mired in this endless loop of dysfunction, with me trying to gracefully detach indefinitely despite this being so nakedly dysfunctional, and when they did I would be obligated to make their visits happen because the court says so -- and both lawyers said this arrangement was better than anything the court would come up with for us. So I started job hunting because **** that - **** that for me, and **** that for DD8.

I just got the job offer last week and it's good. Lawyer had me fill out a request to relocate, a legal petition for the court to rewrite our custody agreement. In my state, you're supposed to offer an alternative visitation agreement in normal circumstances as a starting point for negotiation. My lawyer wrote in a relatively vague passage that he "be entitled to exercise parenting time with the minor child herein that shall be supervised by the paternal grandparents, at reasonable times and places as my former husband and I can agree upon." He has twenty days to contest it - XAH isn't capable of contesting it, but his folks are, and who knows what they'll do if anything. Typically a normie parent might contest saying their home is as good as relocation, that they have a strong support system and can continue to parent the child(ren) adequately in this location. XAH and his family can't credibly make that claim, so my lawyer has assured me that no judge is going to stop me.

This situation with XAH isn't the defining reason I am moving, but it was the last straw. I feel good about it so far. My boyfriend has a job interview this week and it's looking very promising. The schools there are good. I'm anxious because I've lived my whole life in a five mile radius and I'm taking off at almost 40 years old, walking into who knows what. Trying to approach it with a sense of purpose and adventure.
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Old 11-15-2019, 09:33 AM
  # 59 (permalink)  
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GOOD FOR YOU!!! I am so proud of you. Change can be scary, but it can also be the best thing to ever happen.

Thank you for the update, sending you all the good vibes!!!
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Old 11-15-2019, 09:55 AM
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I am so very happy for you and your daughter...change isnít easy, but itís better than feeling trapped in a life you canít be happy in.

I canít remember...is your daughter in any kind of therapy? It would be something to consider, as it would give her someone to help process her justifiable anger and hurt at your ex and his family. Thatís a lot for a child to deal with.

Wishing you all good things!
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