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DH letting SD11 "decide" who to live with!?

Dogmom1321's picture

BM moved (without consent) to another city/county this past year. She is about 30/45 minutes away depending on traffic. SD is court ordered to go to the schools in our district. DH has "final say" when it comes to educational decisions. And yes, dummy DH knew she was planning on moving and literally did nothing about it. 

Well once kids started going back to school in the Spring because of COVID, BM "just couldn't take" SD to school. She either slept in, had to work, whatever excuse she could give to not drive the 30 minutes. SD ended up having her visits at her Moms cut short, and would come back to our house early so DH could bring her to school. 

SD is very obvious about preferring BMs house more than ours. She hasn't mentioned it lately until the other day... SD11 wanted to talk to her Dad about something important. She basically said she feels like she "needs a fresh start" when she starts middle school next  year. And surprise, wants to go to the middle school her Mom is zoned for. A different school in a different, city. Super vague. DH asked if anything happened at school. Summer started 2 weeks ago, BTW. SD11 said she embarassed herself infront of some other girls. And says they "talk behind her back" now. She couldn't tell DH what happened or what was said, or even the names of these girls. Just "it's a bunch of them." 

DH flat out told her "it's not your decision" which has only pushed her further away. The very next day SURPRISE, BM (for the first time ever) attends her therapy session. The 3 of them. They both basically gang up on DH saying how much better off she would be, and she is so depressed now. She will only get worse without this "fresh start." The therapist kind of squashed it before it went anywhere and said they "have the whole summer" to think about it, but focus on her depression for now. DH said nothing. BM said whatever YOU end up deciding, make sure that's what you want because there's "no going back." What the hell. Idk if DH would consider it now. I feel like saying good riddance if that what she wants, even though she's 11.

Because of distance, SD knows she would basically be living with BM during the week always and it wouldnt be 50/50 anymore. SD would probably end up visiting EOWknd. PERSONALLY, I feel like it's SD round about way of saying 'I want to go live with Mom." DH is blind to it. SD makes everyone miserable when she is here. She doesn't spend time with her dad. She locks herself in her room all day only to play on her iPhone. Wakes up at Noon. Only for DH to come home from work at 5:00 to ask "Have you seen SD today?". No I haven't, she's a recluse.  There is zero effort on EITHER of their parts to form a relationship. My thought, why should she even be here on his custody time, if they aren't even around each other?

I'm totally aware it's not my decision... ***But opinions wanted on what DH should do.***  Should he exercise his CO educational rights, and put his foot down? Basically forcing SD to continue living with us 50/50 still? Take switching schools into consideration? Even if it means less custody time for him? Not like he's using what he has anyway. If he truly thinks SDs depression would get better, and she would be happier, should he consider? Neither DH or BM can afford attorney's right now, so filing anykind of paperwork is pretty much not an option right now. They are both still paying for the LAST custody battle they had in 2018.  Thoughts please!!

Winterglow's picture

So she wants to run away from an embarrassing situation rather than just deal with it (what did she do to be so embarrassed? And did it even happen? Besides, by the end of the summer, anyone who was privy to the situation will have forgotten about it). I think she imagines that switching schools will be easy-peasy. It can be but it can also be extremely difficult leaving old friends, familiar faces and places, behind and being thrust into an entirely new world where she knows nobody at all. I don't see that as a solution. I reckon she'll be wanting to go back to her old school by the end of the first week.

FWIW, her reclusive behaviour isn't particularly unusual for her age. The chances are she'll be exactly the same at her mother's place.

If they agree on what to do, can't DH and BM both go pro se if they want to modify the CO? And your state calculator will give you the reasonable amount for CS for what they decide.

Just some random thoughts off the top of my head...

Dogmom1321's picture

Is it bad that I honestly don't believe her? The lack of details make me thinks none of it actually happened. Just a ploy to convince DH to go live with mom. 

I wish DH would get in writing whatever "agreement" they decide on. It's frustrating that he spent thousands on a CO, to not even follow it or try to enforce it on BM. It seems like such a waste of time, money, and energy. 

Good to know about the age thing... that helps!

Winterglow's picture

I suppose if she's so keen to stay with her mother it has to do with there being no rules, no boundaries, no bedtimes?

Dogmom1321's picture

Unfortunately, DH is spineless and has zero rules for SD. No bedtime, no chores, unlimited screentime, you name it *eyeroll* All because he says "she has had it rough." He doesn't parent out of "dad guilt. Both him and BM are doing SD zero favors for her future. 

JRI's picture

I'll agree with BM on one thing, no going back.  I'm not sure what your DH should do but it reminds me of what happened here.  SD moved in here after a fight with BM and a runaway.  Poor SD.  Flash forward and when we tried to discipline her, she wanted to move back to BM.  She went back and forth several times.  It was a way to evade consequences.  Our result now is that at 59, she is a person who can't keep a job, either marriage to 2 good men, or other relationships.  

I believe that in her heart, she always wanted to live with BM.  But BM was volatile and also had her own life including a new man who wasn't thrilled with SD.

S_mum's picture

You know, an 11-year-old girl may not want to spend time with her dad. She may even not want to do her homework. She may not want to go to school . But she has to do these things regardless of what she wants, because an 11-year old doesn't know what's best for her. The adults around her are supposed to know that.

An 11-year-old girl lacks the maturity and wisdom to know that she needs her father in her life. This is why important decisions (such as decisions re visitation schedules) shouldn’t be based on the wants of the child but on the needs of the child. A child needs both  parents in her/his life. And I cannot stress this enough. If SD has no relationship with her father now that he has her 50% of the time, him having her only every other weekend will definitely not help things.

The fact that she spends all the time in her room is not a valid reason, IMO, to change the custody arrangement. This could be just a phase. And for you all you know, she may be doing the same at BM's house. If I were your DH, I would put my foot down and continue with the current custody arrangement. He was right: it's not SD's decision to make.

Dogmom1321's picture

I think a HUGE problem DH is facing is that for SDs whole life, he has let her make her own choices. Even from the time she was 5 years old.

She would decide when/if she wanted to take a bath

She would decide if she wanted to keep playing on the iPad

She would decide what restaurant everyone is going to for dinner

She would decide whether the family was going to the beach or the pool

She would decide whether she felt like taking medication or not

No wonder SD is flabbergasted that she can't make this life decision. DH has always let her in the past, and now it's coming back to bite him in the @ss. He always thought he was doing SD a favor by giving her choices. It's only led to entitlement. 

BethAnne's picture

I would question why the school in your district would be better for her than the school in BM's district. Is BM's house unsuitable for SD to live in? Is BM an abusive or neglectful parent? Does your SO worry about his daughter when she is with BM? 

The problem is that BM moved, so 50/50 is now impractical. If there is nothing much to distinguish between the two households in terms of child welfare and if your husband doesn't really have an opinion about keeping his daughter living with him during the school week then I think he should probably just accept it and let SD live with her mother as that is what she wants to do.

He could perhaps request that the therapist work with SD on her own to get the the bottom of this desire to switch schools (and houses) to check if it is reasonable for her to want to switch and there is nothing else going on. He could also reach an agreement (preferably in writing) with BM about expectatioins for SD if she is to go to middle school in her district in terms of grades expected etc and that SD's situation will be reviewed again before high school with the possibility that SD will go to high school in your district. 

If I were in your situation (and there is no abuse going on at BM's house) I would tell my husband to "do what you think is best for SD" and leave him to it so that I knew that I did not influence his decision and could not be blamed later if things go wrong. 

Dogmom1321's picture

Yes, I definitely agree with saying "do what you think is best." I 100% have my own opinion about the whole situation, but I'll be keeping that to myself to avoid being thrown under the bus. If DH agrees, I think having stipulations in place would be reasonable (attendance, grades, continuing therapy, etc.) Thank you!

BethAnne's picture

My husband effectlively did let his daughter decide where to live a few years ago. She was 9 at the time. SD wanted to live with her mother, BM wanted it too. There was no legal/court reason obliging him to let her go but he chose to let it happen. At the time I told him that I didn't think it was a good idea but it was his choice. His reasoning was that if he let it happen now and if it all went wrong (which it did) then SD would know that he had not stopped her seeing her mother and had tried to listen to her desires and make it work. 

Eventually BM messed up enough (again) that my husband felt compelled (rightly in my opinion) to change custody back to SD living with us. He put in for a court ordered custody change, BM didn't try to protest it legally so it went through. SD understood why he got the custody changed but I am not really sure what she feels about it. She doesn't really talk to me about emotional stuff. She doesn't seem to hold any resentment towards her Dad though, which is what my husband was aiming for so I suppose it worked in that sense. I do wonder how she will think about it all in hindsight when she is an adult and can see the situation more clearly. 

Dogmom1321's picture

That's really helpful. I feel like if DH doesn't let SD go, she will only build up resentment towards him... and there will be nothing of a relationship left to try to salvage.

Harry's picture

Thing to do.  She must go to school in DH neighborhood.  No if ands or butts .   Once he gives in, or if he gives in.  Then BM and SD will control everything.  She doesn't want to visit. Because she is depress.  Then back to therapy session. 

She wants her boyfriend to spend the night in her bed. Back to therapy session.    Your DH will lose big time 

S_mum's picture

Well, too f*cking bad! It's his responsibility, regardless of what he wants. Besides, it seems that BM doesn't want the responsibility of parenting either, so....