I have a friend who has been divorced from her ex-husband for years. He is a very controling person. She recently re-married and now her ex is causing all sorts of problems for them.
He IS emotionally and mentally abusing the children. She has tried contacting the county, child protection, and the woman's shelter. She hasn't been able to find any way to protect her children from him.
He has joint custody, so she cannot legally deny him his time with the children. Does anyone know a solid resource I can direct her to for help?
*my explination doesn't even hit the tip of the iceburg on how horrible he is being, but since there is no "physical" evidence of abuse - she is basically being told by everyone she goes to that her hands are tied.
I completely understand her situation. I am kinda in the same boat. I have no idea what advice to give. Maybe talk to a lawyer, see if there is some way they can help. Sometimes a hearing in family court can be set up if she can prove that the well being of the children is at risk. Even if there are no outward signs of physical abuse, emotional abuse and neglect can take a dramatic tole on a child. Maybe she can have a meeting with a therapist or psychologist to talk with the child, and look into the emotional and mental abuse aspects. A testimonial from a psychologist as to the detrimental affects the abuse is having on the children can go a long way with a judge.
She already has her children in therapy, and the only thing she seems to be getting from "legal advice" is that she has to take him to court... which takes time, all the while she has to, by law, keep allowing him to have contact with them. It's so messed up.
She's a wreck - she's losing weight from the stress of it all, and she's exhausted trying to find someone who can give her any bit of advice she can use to protect her kids.
Like I said, I am dealing with something similar, and am getting the same run-around by everyone I talk to. I don't know what else to do. Maybe a advocacy group for abuse victims will be able to give some advice on how to prove emotional abuse. Or at least point her in the right direction for a way to get it taken care of. I know it all takes time, and it's so frustrating, knowing there is so little you can do, and so little help out there.
She is going to look into getting a "child advocate" through the county - maybe this is something you could look into as well.
It just breaks my heart that she's going through this & I just wish there was something I could do to help. She's one of my best friends & her kids are wonderful.
Thank you Anne, sometimes it's just nice to get a little brainstorming help from someone who isn't "too close" - but who understands.
Been there, done that, bought that t-shirt. My kids are now in their 20s, college graduates, and one is married with twins.
Here's my advice...
If you can TRULY separate your angst with your ex from his interactions with the kids and you STILL feel like he is being detrimental to your kids' health and well-being, hire an attorney for the kids. And then stay out of it as much as you can and let him or her do their job.
The bad news is that the kids' physical well-being is of the utmost importance to the court. Their mental well-being is the furthest thing from the court's mind. So...
DO NOT EVER talk dirt about your ex in front of the kids. DO NOT let the kids know that there are any problems. Be civil to him at all times, particularly in front of your children. If you think he is causing problems, your angst with your ex will cause them triple the trouble, and will very quickly make you the bad guy.
Basically, remove the bad karma from your daily routine, love your children, listen to them when they are having issues and just be a Mom. Your love for them will heal most wounds that he can inflict.
Great advice from a wise, wise lady, (Ironher). Also good to see you, Anna Marie. It's been awhile!
I was also going to suggest not engaging in the negative intimacy. The ex sounds like he's stirring the pot because he has issues with your friend's remarriage. The kids are his only power remaining over your friend. It's a classic scenario. I lived it, too. My ex was furious with me and took it out on our son. So sad. But so common.
The best thing to do is disengage. Don't fuel the fire.
You don't mention how old the kids are. Hopefully getting to the age when they can decide for themselves whether they want contact with dad.
Meanwhile, your friend's gonna need a LOT of evidence if she plans to take her ex to court. That is not a fun experience and could backfire in her face.
You also don't say what state this is all taking place in. Custody laws vary by state. I suggest looking your state laws up on line.
Here is a good overall resource that might offer some help as well: www.womenslaw.org.
They are already going to court anyway because he is against her wanting to move with her new husband to a different area. They live near the state line and they want to go literally accross the river to another state, which is the same if not closer to the distance from the dad's home from where they are now.
She doesn't talk bad about dad anywhere near the children.
It is a power/control thing that he's doing. He's being as horrible as a person can be. She is at the point where she is afraid for the children's safety.
Another quick question - I know that it's important to NOT bring the kids into the situation as much as possible, but how does the court view parents who do?
My friend tells the kids that dad loves them, and tries to keep the legal issues from them as much as possible.
Her ex brings it up with them all the time. He says he is going to get custody of them, he calls them liars when they say something nice about her, and he talks bad about her every time he has the kids.
Do the courts care about that - or is it more of just something mature parents do for the mental/emotional well being of their kids?
A parent's concern should be solely focused on the children's emotional welfare. Judges are so used to dealing with these cases that they can recognize right away who are the parents that truly care about the kids and have their best interest at heart. They'll rule in their favor.
It would be nice to be able to believe that. There are just so many people out there that are so manipulative - it's hard to trust that an overworked judge who sees hundreds of cases will be able to see through a person on the brief time in front of the court.
I agree - a parent's concern should be focused on their welfare - not just emotional, but all aspects. A parent should be loving and caring & want what is best for their child. Sadly you have people - like this man, who are spiteful, vindictive, and highly manipulative to try to get their way no matter who they crush in the process.
Ask for a parent teacher conference so that there is anecdotal record of what is happening and how it's influencing the children. I'm a teacher. I go through this all the time with parents divorcing.
The kids are still on summer break, but I will bring this up to her. Maybe she can get in touch with last years teachers and see if there is anything they can come up with. Thanks.
Teachers usually don't want to get involved, but if the mother asks for a teacher/principal/parent conference in order to discuss the issues that are taking place and that are affecting the children, they will listen. It's a good idea because the mother is taking the initiative to do what's best for the kids and she'll have paperwork to back her up in court. The school councelor can help a lot too. Teachers can keep a behavioral record of the children to show (for example) if they can't focus in school the day after they spend the night at their father's house, etc.
We've had situations were one of the parents was sending the child to school with only a slice of cheese in the lunchbox - so, poor nutrition, etc. Hope this helps.
You must bring the kids into it to some extent, they are the true voices in these cases. The court will listen to a child above all so ask the children what happens at their dads and how it makes them feel and things like that to prove in court. Ask "has he ever hit you? Made you scared? Made you feel stupid?" things like that win this case.
It has been a long time, MightyMom! Missed you as well.
I agree, removing the anger from the situation is a great idea. I try to keep all my feelings about my ex as far from my daughter as possible. She asks me if I like her daddy, and I tell her of course, he gave me the best gift ever. That's usually enough for her. The court doesn't like petty personal issues between the parents. A parent who brings their own feelings about the other parent into the courtroom, are not looked well upon. Best rule of thumb, stick to the facts.
It sounds like CPS isn't doing a good job again, they take many children from good homes and put them in horrible foster homes, yet when they have evidence of true danger and a mother willing to take care of her children they fail at their job. I would say they best way is to gain police reports, therapy reports, doctor reports, any evidence to prove the abuse to a judge. Also have them ask the kids if they will testify in court. You can always go back to court for custody issues.
The kids are pretty young & I would think that would be scary and traumatic for them. Do they have to sit in a stand - or could they talk to a therapist or something who would relay what they said? I don't know how all of this works. I just know my friend is beside herself & at a loss of what to do here.
I think getting the kids word would be great if it didn't add any additional stress to their already disrupted lives.
thanks - I will pass on the suggestion.
They can talk to the therapist and they take notes and if anything comes up where the child feels threatened or is hurt they take it to the court hearing. I had this happen to me and my brothers. The mother should also talk to the therapist about what is going on so she knows what to look for and how to talk to the children about it.
She finally got the women's shelter people to talk with CPS & they are supposed to be coming out today to talk with the kids.
Now, maybe something will be done
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