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Going to Court

stepmom27's picture

My husband filed for an enforcement on his visitation rights because Stepkids (SS12 and SD14) have not wanted to excercise visitation, SS since November and SD since June. Mom does not encourage them to come over and takes their side. Mom filed a counter suit to modify visitation and wants to change the parent child relationship (SPACR). They say that the children are being physically and emotionally aboused at our house and the boy says that we FORCED him to get a haircut eventhough he refused. The kids are going to talk to the judge and tell them all these things that are not true. They have both taken Drama classes and one has even gotten into an acting school. I think they can really convince the judge. We don't have money for a lawyer and the notice we got from Moms lawyer said that if we lose we have to pay her lawyer fees too! This has turned into a huge deal because the  children do not like to be disciplined, but are very rude to people including the adults when they are over at our house. 

Example: SD stopped talking to me because on our way back from vacation last summer she was pointing at people in other cars and I explained why pointing could be considered rude and that she shouldn't do it because people may not like it. 

Does anyone have any idea of what we can exepect from this. My husband and I are freaking out and he is scared he is going to lose his kids.

futurobrillante99's picture

I don't think a lawyer can force you to pay legal fees. They can ASK the judge to award legal fees. The judge decides.

Iamwoman's picture

It is standard practice for attorneys to add an adendum that lawyers fees be paid by the opposing party. In family law, this almost NEVER happens though, unless one party is very poor and the other party very wealthy (welfare vs. rockstar). Don't worry about the lawyers fees. That won't happen.

As to the rest of the mess, I don't care what sort of acting classes the children have had. Being forced to get a haircut is NOT abuse, and no judge will ever look at it as so. My DD has suffered ACTUAL abuse with her father, and because no marks were left, nothing can be done at this time. We have video evidence of some of the abuse (surveillance tapes secured from various public places), and we are STILL in an ongoing battle, and her dad is STILL allowed unsupervised visitation. With that being said, I think you are getting the picture of just how very hard it is for abuse to be proven in court.

It is far more likely that when BM and the skids open their mouths, BM will be accused of PAS, and she will have most of her parenting time taken away from her - aka, your DH will receive MORE parenting time than what you already have. I hope you are ready for more time with skids, because I would bet a paycheck on this outcome.

My advice is to just keep documenting dates and times of the failed visitations. At 12, a child can still be physically forced into visitation. At 14, that's iffy. However, unless BM has documentation proving that she has put forth every effort possible into getting her kids into the car to visit their dad, including imposing consequences on them if they resist visitation, then she is guilty of interfering with DH's parenting time (a form of PAS).


All of that being said, it's time for DH to consider whether he wants to force visitation on two teenagers who so obviously don't want to be at your home. He could potentially permanently ruin his relationship with his own children by fighting their mother in court while they are teens, and subsequently forcing them into even more time with him (BM will NOT win this case. period.). Frankly, if I were your DH, I would keep the doors open, attend any school functions, send cards and gifts for holidays, and possibly try to get into family counseling with BM and the skids. If he would rather take it to court, you will need a lawyer. There might be one in your area who will work probono, or a program you qualify for that will give free legal representation.

stepmom27's picture

I'm sorry, ahat you are going through is horrible. I cant even imagine what that would be like.

We are just really scared because she has a good expensive lawyer and she is really good at manipulating things along with the kids. The kids threaten with suicide and self harm (they have done it).

SS says that I forced him to get his hair shaved...twice! and that I threw him on the ground. The policed questioned me about it and took mom's side and my husband's family had questioned us about it. Like they believe we would do some thing like that. 

freebird's picture

I have to agree with lamwoman: 

All of that being said, it's time for DH to consider whether he wants to force visitation on two teenagers who so obviously don't want to be at your home.

This is a sad situation for these kids and your husband. Seems that Mom has PAS'd them good. Might be best to let them not visit for awhile (birthdays and holidays included). I would not want kids like that around me or my family. Your husband should be considering this and protecting you from this behavior. 


Saint_Gus's picture

Because they are just kids, they may feel like boundaries and consequences are emotionally abusive if they have none at the BM's house. I think judges see that all the time and SHOULD be able to distinguish between the two. So even though they may believe in their head they are being abused emotionally (so they aren't lying) a rational conversation with a judge, asking questions like "what chores are at mom's house," and "when you do something wrong what consequences do you face?" should clear that up. Why though are the saying that they are being physically abused? I feel like that type of abuse is pretty cut and dry. Are they liars? Or are they being hit and you consider it consequences and they feel its abuse? If they are lying then you'll just have to dispute it. If they are dealing with physical consequences then that should be addressed.

stepmom27's picture

SD send an email to my husband saying that he is just her "biological component" and that another man should have raised her and that he should spend his whole life hurting and crying because she is done being his daughter..even took a different last name. 

Husband replies. I am your father and you do not speak to me that way. I am not going to continue to let you put me down and say mean things to me whenever you feel like it or when you don't get your way.


SS does sneaky things or is mean to other kids. He gets a warning and/or a time out. Husband says that next time he is going to "spank his bottom". SS does it again and he gets spanked. (happened twice). once she called the police and police called my husband and told him that he was well within his parental rights and that he was sorry he had to make that call.


Thumper's picture

I know all of this is very upsetting.  Your situation with the BM's lawyer trying to scare you, your skids saying what they are saying about abuse,  "too many rules at your house"  all of this is common when highconflict is present.  I will assume no charges are against your dh OR you by the state.

First things first...stop talking to BMs lawyer. Their loyalty is to their client BM. HE/she is trying to pressure dh. BM's lawyer knows "somehow"------ you can not afford an attorney so nowwww, HEY DUDE  if you dont back off I am going to make YOU pay your X's lawyers fee's  because you will loose. blah blahhhh, his scare tactics have worked, right? IGNORE...keep emails from lawyer to show your lawyer.

 Stepmom27, no one can afford a lawyer but you NEED one. DH needs one to protect his interests.

About lawyer fees... Very unusual for a Judge to order fees to be paid by opposing party that looses in family court.

What your going thru has been the same for mostly 20 years. VERY typical but it feels like no one ELSE could experience the same. Judges hear the same stories just like yours every day too.

BM's side will have to prove with real evidence that the kids are beng physically abused by hospital reports, cps reports, criminal charges because of cps report.

I would  find a Dr. of Child Psychology to screen for potential Pathogenic Parenting..."kids" dont reject a parent unless Pathogenic parenting is present. Kids who are abused present differently. Abused kids WANT to fix stuff, kids think they CAN fix 'stuff'...and if they go back to the abuser kids think everything will be ok.

Foster kids want to be with the bio parent they were removed from. I have seen that with my own eyes far too many times.

**different than 40year old adult kid telling parent to buzz off .** OR 'hey mom if you dont stop putting my wife down I am NOT going to visit you"

Please find time to watch Dr. Craig Childress "Parental Alienation" youtube videos and go to his website. FYI---dont suggest to your lawyer or the Judge your kids may be suffering from Parental Alienation. The correct term IS PATHOGENIC Parenting. USE it.

IF you utter "Parental Alienation' you will be told it is hard to prove. Follow Childress guidence.



stepmom27's picture

Thanks I will look that up. We are working on getting a lawyer. One told us that it's a"longshot". We think that our lawyer friend thinks that we don't have a good case (even if he hasn't said it.) The kids say he is verbally abusive and go to therapy for it, but I have a son too and my husband is great with him and if he was anything like what the kids cause him of being I would not be here. It's just Drama and has been like this for 2 years. 

stepmom27's picture

There was a big incident last November where I took SS for a haircut and he called mom and told her I forced him and shaved his head! (I took him to a haircut place and we all got haircuts) . SD came into my home and physically assaulted me and my husband and I decided to press charges. She went to court and the case got dismissed and our lawyer friend (nof representing us) thinka that that is a big red flag because the police were involved. Mom has medical say so we can't take then to our own therapist. They used to go to therapy and as soon as the therapist said that the best interest of the kids was to have a relationship with their dad she changed therapists and now kids go to someone else. Mom says therapist agree with not making the kids have a relationship with their father. Children threaten with suicide, self harm and are very mean to my husband. He has been fighting this for 2 years. SD has been in a mental hospital after one of her visits and she has cut. SS scratched himself once. They do this when they do not get their way or things that they want. They only come around on their birthdays or Christmas when they are going to get presents and they are super sweet and loving with everyone. They are obviously not afraid. We have a 9 year old son in the house who we still have to raise and have rules for and it's not fair to not have the same rules apply to his kids because mom interferes. 

Exjuliemccoy's picture

I think I'm going to agree with Futro on this one.

As painful as it may be, your DH needs to consider letting these toxic kids go for now. They are well and truly their mother's creatures and have been thoroughly alienated. Compelling them to visit will only escalate things, whereas if your DH steps back with love while keeping the door open, there's hope that the skids may come out of the fog when their older.


Thumper's picture

In my opinion the kids need a Child Psychologist asap. NOT a LCSW or a counselor who will sit around holding hands and singing Kumbaya   but a Dr. in Child Psychology.

If one wanted a brand new Chrysler car, would you go to a used car-lot that only sold Fords Trucks?