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I am your child's GAL. Feel free to ask your questions.

runninglawmom's picture

For all intents and purposes, I am your child's guardian ad litem. I will not be insulted or have anecdotal information spewed at me as if I am responsible for the conduct of all GALs, nor will I rehash the outcomes of cases, but I am happy to answer any questions anyone has about the process, or about how you can best help your GAL get your side of your case.

For your information, I am a county GAL (handling all abuse and neglect cases in a metro/rural county), and I am also a CASA (volunteer as well as attorney for CASA). In addition, I do some domestic GAL work (but only when I am appointed - I have way too many cases already). I'm also a mom of five and a stepmom of two. I've been divorced and share custody; I have also dealt with my husband's ongoing custody and support issues at his side not as a GAL or attorney but as his wife. I may be uniquely suited to help some of you understand the process even as I quickly add that nothing said here constitutes legal advice per se, and nothing said here forms a attorney-client relationsip, with the privileges and duties therein waived by this notice.

runninglawmom's picture

I would get the CHILDREN protective orders, which specify the abuser cannot be in sight or sound contact with the kids, nor within 1000 feet of them....that should cover the living side by side as well as the "hearing in the background" issue, and should also mean that mom can't get around the intent of the DFS case. Are the kids under the jurisdiction of the juvenile court, and therefore in DFS custody placed with dad? Do they have family therapy with mom? (If not they should, so they can discuss with her their fears of the abuser and have the THERAPIST document mom's unwillingness to cut ties.)

Rags's picture

This is a very generous offer of your time. Thanks.
Not specifically a GAL question, however, in my experience there seems to be a major shortage of professionals like yourself who are truly professional in their practice of family law.
Am I off base in my observations on this? If I am not off base why do you think this is the case?
We dealt with several attorneys during our nearly 17 year Custody/Visitation/Support CO period. There seems to be a preponderance of two types of attorneys who deal with this type of law. The first are the nurturers who charge big bucks for clients to vent then recommend that the opposition be approached to work collaboratively for the best interests of the child. Of course this is what we all want but when the opposition is toxic these types of attorneys are useless.
The second common type seem to be the promise the world, fan the flames of conflict and never resolve anything types.
It took us a while but we finally found an attorney who worked with us to clearly define our desired outcomes and to develop a plan to pursue that outcome.
The characteristic this attorney has that appealed to me initially was process based approach to managing the entire process of holding the blended family opposition accountable for compliance to the CO and adapting to any changes.
When we first met with him he asked us some very pointed but simple questions.
1. What do you want to accomplish with this action?
2. Are you doing this for the best interest of the child or to stick it to biodad?
3. This may be a protracted effort and could be expensive. Are you prepared for this possibility?
4. If I do not believe what you are looking to accomplish is feasible or the right goal will you consider alternatives that I may suggest?
Why does this seem to be a rare approach for attorneys.
I would appreciate your thoughts and comments.
Thanks again for your time.

runninglawmom's picture

I will say that attorneys are first of all human beings (despite the appearances at times that we are cyborgs sprung from the planet Evil). So there are many "types" of us, but I do think generally there are the business end lawyers, who look at practicing as a business and at people as commodities; these attorneys are good for keep things very objective and for keeping an eye on the bottom line but they are often not skilled at human relationships which makes it hard for them to be GALs, specifically. There are the bleeding hearts, who are all about relationships, and who might have a harder time keeping the definite boundaries even between client and attorney, as they become very involved in each case they represent. There are also some attorneys who are very gifted at higher level human relationships, who don't become personally involved with clients but who have an innate feel for people and how they work. This last type will be your best GAL. There is something crucial to the GAL process, something that makes or breaks a case, and it is found somewhere in that gap between overinvolved and uninvolved emotionally with the client's case. As hard as it is to describe, it is even harder to "see" it in a GAL before that person is hired or appointed. But, to make a long and complicated answers less so, it sounds like your last attorney example was this unique hybrid - the GAL who finds the ball (the goal of the child's best interest), seeks to mete that out to each parent as the only true reason to make changes to the child's current situation, is honest about the cost (both financial and emotional) of pursuing this aim, and approaches BOTH parents with alternative solutions to try to keep the child's interests at the forefront.

Rags's picture

Thanks so much for your response. In our case the attorney was ours and not a GAL. We have never had the need for a GAL and now that our kid (my SS-20) has aged out from under the CO I suspect we won't have need for one.

Thanks again for your time.

Best regards,

runninglawmom's picture

Yes, it absolutely exists.

I do think it takes some time and some examination not just of what the parents tell you directly (anyone can SAY the right things) but what the child tells you and what the actions of all involved SHOW you. I am a big believer in the actions speaking louder than words. My interviews with parents are usually shorter than my interviews with teachers, social workers, therapists and the child (if the child is old enough). I also like to watch how the parents interact both verbally and nonverbally with each other - in court and in the hallway. You would be surprised how much I learn by watching the nonverbal clues out in the hall before court. I have even had an assistant or another attorney watch the parents to get a second opinion about what I am seeing. I had a case recently where mom was refusing dad visits, insisting he was dangerous, etc. She had poisoned her ten year old daughter's mind to dad in many ways, and yet I saw the child's face light up for every time visit that I forced to happen by supervising them myself (hint: judges rarely forbid contact between a parent and child if the GAL asks for it, and especially if the GAL supervises it as part of the investigation). I just KNEW mom was PASing this kid, felt it in my gut. So as part of our next hearing I suggested family mediation, with just mom and dad present. Mom's face gave her away - she was THRILLED with the suggestion that she and dad would be alone in a room. This totally nullified her previous assertion that she "feared" dad and confirmed what I already felt certain of. Mom was using this child as "punishment" against dad because she actually still wanted dad, and was mad that he had moved on in a new relationship.
All of this I learned not from Mom or Dad's words - those were irrelevant. I figured out the PAS existed by seeing how the child and dad really interacted, how the child truly felt about her dad, by watching them alone together. Kiddo was feeling torn apart by loyalty to her "abandoned" mom; dad had dared to move on in a new relationship and had had another child whom mom was using to upset the child (saying, see daddy doesn't need you anymore). Dad was clueless about why mom was withholding the child, at least her real motivation. And mom was "winning" by hurting dad, as revenge for him not wanting her anymore. It was all very sad.
So mom and dad went to mediation. Mom drug it out as I had expected and eventually agreed to give dad the visits he was already entitled to, if she could go the first few times to be sure the child was safe. I went into court and recited their agreement but then asked the judge to allow ME to go on the visits to be sure the child was safe instead, since I felt it was important for the child not to be confused into thinking mom and dad were reuniting. Judge went with my recs, mom's PAS was thwarted (as part of the order I also asked that judge enter an immediate custodial change if the visits did not occur as ordered, and that was granted), and most importantly, this child can be with her mom AND her dad and love them both.

So yeah, I know PAS exists, and a good GAL can craft sly ways around it without having to "prove" it is PAS. Sadly most judges don't recognize PAS as legitimate, and the ones that do are reluctant to move on in because it is very political.

runninglawmom's picture

I personally think judges hate more than anything to see their decisions reversed on appeal, and since PAS is not widely respected or even recognized, using it to form a judicial order or opinion is going to make that decision more reversible. So, take from that what you will....

I think custody should be based on a number of things, and yes, parental facilitation of relationship with both parents is one of the factors. It would only be part of the equation though. Who is the child most comfortable with, ie who has the strongest relationship with the child? Who can spend the most quality time with the child? Where is the child's community located? What about school? Other siblings? Other family members? There are a number of important factors. It isn't an easy decision from the judicial or quasi-judicial (GAL) viewpoint.

I hate CP and NCP titles. I just call parents mom and dad and ignore the legal mumbo jumbo; I don't think those provide any value. Shared parenting, shared legal custody, etc, are the way to go. I always want to have a mediation clause for times when parents can't agree, but I always remind parents that they picked this other adult to make babies with and they should always love the child more than they now hate the other parent.

50/50 custody isn't practical in most situations and it confuses kids. They never have a base or a neighborhood. Now if parents could be grownups and forfeit comfort, job situations, etc, and live in the SAME neighborhood, I would be all for 50/50. Even in limited situations where they live in the same town, it can work. But anything more than an added ten minutes to the school drive daily and it's too much burden on the only innocent party, the child. I do think there are some ways to get creative to allow both parents more equal time - weekends that run Friday after school to Monday school start, and an overnight midweek; half and half of all school breaks; year to year reevaluation of where a child lives (especially where they are in the same school district). But, the battle over a child is not about fairness to adults, and it should not be. It is about best interest of the child - and while parenting time with both parents is crucial, to a child the stability of "home" is also crucial, and that is about more than where a kid lays his head at night. I would encourage ALL divorcing couples to think long and hard about how to make the parenting time easier for the kids. I can't speak positively enough about the few situations I have seen where the mom and dad chose to live in the same general neighborhood (within blocks in one case, and within a mile in two others). Those kids have it best - mom and dad both close enough to walk to, school and community and friends all within walking or easy driving distance from each parent.
But absent that kind of arrangment, 50/50 isn't practical and it requires kids to sacrifice. The adults have to do the sacrificing.

SanAntonioSoccerMom's picture

I totally disagree with your opinion of 50/50 placement especially if both parents are in a reasonable distance from each other. I find it to be the best deal for both kids and parents. One parent should not be reduced to a paying visitor in his/her child's life, that relationship is a sacrifice children not have to make. In several states 50/50 physical placement is standard (OK, MN, WI, NM, and CA-has a whacked version of it) and even back in the mid 90's NM routinely ordered 50/50 physical placement. Kids spending equal time with both parents in both homes is ideal for them, and they will adapt to situation. Granted 50/50 placement does require parents to be mature and willing to coparent and put the childrens' best interest first.

Instead of saying "divorcing parents think long and hard..." I always say "ADULTS, think long and hard about who you chose to procreate with". I often see people so willing and eager to have children with just anyone. Be selective people!

SanAntonioSoccerMom's picture

There is no presumption of 50/50 physical custody in MN but MN most definitely has 50/50 physical custody arrangements that are court ordered. Like the majority of the states in this country "the best interests of the child" is used to determine physical custody.

Another board I frequent is moderated by a MN/WI family law attorney. If you would like, I can give you his name. He is in the MSP area, very sharp guy.

runninglawmom's picture

You are welcome to your opinion. However, as GAL I will rarely recommend fifty fifty and "let the kids adjust" - it just isn't practical and it doesn't put them first. Adults need to do the adjusting. I feel strongly that if the children are so important to each parent (and I hope they are), then the adults need to act like adults, bury the old hatchets, and live close enough together so that the time can be split more equally. If they can't do so, I am not going to make the kids pay for it by tons of time in the car. As I stated, there are creative ways to make parenting time more like parenting time and not like the yucky old "visitation" idea - but the real majority of GALs and judges don't favor fifty fifty. It's just a fact.

EdCooperwards2719's picture

:? I need some ex husband is trying to get sole legal and physical custody of our 12 and 9 year old after being divorced 6 years and its a mystery why. The only reason I can think would be because I got married and didnt tell anyone and we were trying to get pregnant. I have been divorced since 2012, we have always done things fair have had cookouts together split holidays all kinds of things down to attending each others wedding and basically best friends we always stayed close it was great for the kids. The girlfriend of his and I were super close as well. We always loved to do things as a full family it was great. We had a on and off romantic relationship during our divorce and holding on to the idea of us being together for some time but eventually and I moved on emotionally before he did and although we stayed close friends only, there was still a bit of jealous feeling on his part but eventually was unspoken. Even though him and my husband got along great like I stated, when he found out that I was married (being we didnt tell anyone we got married sooner than we had planned) The dynamic of my ex and I's relationship changed. He is a good dad, but a very paranoid short fused person and started attacking me personally phone messages etc which I had seen many times before but just had been a long time. Then There was a moment before this where my son and my ex came to me and asked for my son to live with him and go to a different school 25 min away in another town. I was not happy about my son trying to talk me into it being that he is 9 and my ex should have came to me and not my son. I declined being that they have always went to the same school, lived with me, and have no issues with school grades attendance etc...and he gets equal time with them as we have made a schedule several times to work with him on spending time with them being that he works out of town and state some times. So its not like he never sees them or what not. Since I said no....I received lawyer paperwork in the mail from his lawyer wanting sole and physical custody of both my children. Also my son has became completely defiant and being terrible at home because he knows about court and it has caused lots of stress and heartache for me and my husband and daughter. I was off work for about 6 months because my husband and I were trying to get pregnant, and therefore, I didnt really have the money to throw out for a lawyer of my own, so I have now went back to work and trying to shift thing around to obtain one but I have now gotten mediation paperwork and guardian ad litem paperwork. All of it is confusing to me I feel like I am at a disadvantage because I dont have counsel that can explain things to me. None of this is fair to the kids. My son loves the idea of living with his dad he has changed so much personality wise and is acting so strange. I dont know what my ex is telling him and its sad I wouldnt think he would fill his head with things but the way hes acting tells a different story. He thinks that if he does these things and show how much he hates living with me he will be able to go to live with his dad. He doesnt understand anything hes tried to even reason with me about living there and he just sounds coached and not like my son. I dont want my kids schooling being disrupted its all they have ever known. My daughter is 12 she has a learning disability (mild) but she has an IEP teacher she has had one since 2nd grade and I have worked so hard with the school with meetings and tutoring and tweaking her learning style to meet her needs and she does amazing A student I would never want her to just be taken to a different school when that schooling system knows her and has helped her so much I dont want to have to start over I feel like it would effect her grades. Also she has already said something to her teacher about how she is upset or "stressed" because her dad filed for all of this which I never wanted them to know anything or if so the bare minimum and told her teacher she cant talk to her dad because "he will yell and get mad" and it just breaks my heart. My ex also is in denial about her learning disability and says that she doesnt have one its a pride thing maybe. I know he doesn't really get involved with their school like I do but him not acknowledging it makes me nervous because if in the event he did get custody I dont want that neglected. I don't want any of this for me or the kids. This whole thing I dont understand why its happening. I dont abuse neglect harm the kids. They have an amazing and stable home I do not drink do drugs been to jail not anything even a tiny bit close to where they should be uprooted. I let him have an extra night during the week so they already do 2 overnights then every other weekend its more than fair even though I hate that they are going back and forth like that across town but they need time with him and he needs time with them. I have always been more than accommodating to make sure he gets good quality time with them....he didnt divorce the kids so i would never try and skim back or alter time in a negative way any time I have altered it was to fit a schedule good for him. We have been divorced a long time and have never had an issue ever regarding the children. I dont understand why. The only thing that makes sense is because I got remarried etc. That's when things changed with us, regardless what the reason is I am sad for them I dont see why he thinks they should be moved with him in another town after 6 years and nothing with our situation hinders them personally or time with their dad personally. I just would like some opinions on this and what I should do or say to the guardian ad litem and at mediation. I am going to send my son well really all of us to counseling because of the changes its has caused in him and my daughter but I dont want to go in and tell the ad litem these things and feel like I am attacking or bashing him because its not my intention its just facts that I want to get across without me sounding like i am trying to be negative about him I just want her to understand how its formed into this and how it went from one being one situation to now this and also things he is trying to do or trying to tie up loose ends that he has never done (dentist apts and not telling me, never carrying insurance on them like he was to 6 yrs ago and them being on medicaid and then my husband carrying insurance on them but marries his girlfriend quickly and puts them on her insurance.. bribing daughter with Iphone 7 to live with him, splurdging on them financially new boat trips here and there and other facts) I feel like she needs to know these but I dont want to sound like I am slinging mud or making him sound bad. Truth is I miss my ex husband and I's friendship I dont know why hes against me and doing this. I guess what I am asking is HELP! What are your thoughts? Never expected this from him...this is not who he is or who we have ever been to eachother or as parents I am just so shocked still I have no answers and feel like I am in a nightmare and I want to do whats best for the kids for their social and educational lives physically mentally emotionally. Please someone shed some light on this

Rags's picture

I am developing a huge smart lawyer crush on you!!! Smart women are my weakness. I married an amazing one. It is idiots of any flavor that I can't stand. Thanks again for your time and for sharing your experience.

Patricks82's picture

SS15 end stage renal failure. Developmentally 6-8 years old, PTSD & Anxiety. Has memory issues. Also is Native child.
Prior to hospitalization BM had physical/legal custody despite abandoning him in November. OCS currently has legal custody. Technically I have physical custody. My husband has unrestricted visitation, phone calls etc.
BM has several restrictions can only call on days he doesn't have dialysis or any other upsetting medical procedure. Can only call between 2-4 pm calls must be monitored. Visitation days are same as call days but have to be approved by me 24 hours in advance must have a set time and agenda. Visits are supervised by me. She isn't allowed on the Pediatric floor. Has very strict conversation guidelines due to inappropriate conversations. She is being investigated for criminal medical negligence due to 3 years of refusal to have his kidney disease treated after being told refusing treatment would result in his death. Which it nearly did as when she abandoned him she gave us no medical history it's only a fluke we caught the renal failure he was within 48 hours of death and had to be medevaced to a larger hospital for treatment.
My son has a court appointed GAL but she is a 3+ hour drive a way. We have not heard from her yet despite it having been a month. So in the meantime I have my son write down what bothers or upsets him when his mom calls and that way he can talk to the hospital social worker. He also has never spoken with his OCS worker. It's been 7 weeks in the hospital 1 visit from mom which horribly upset him. Is it possible to ask for another stipulation on the family plan? Specific no mention of gifts or bringing things to him and when/if she does come up gifts/items be approved by me before given to him?
I.e he is on a strict diet due to dialysis in her only visit her family tried to force him to eat things he isn't allowed.
I.e. She told him in December she was bringing xmas gifts. Never did
I.e. She tried giving him a cell phone so he can call her.
I.e. Told him she was coming up and bringing him Valentine's cards and candy. Never showed & he cant have candy
I.e. Promised to bring his laptop. Told him upon arriving that "oops it got broken"

runninglawmom's picture

Honestly? I used to have a real grudge against stepmoms, and I think probably against dads somewhat also, since I had been a stay at home mom to all my kids and I very selfishly could not imagine a dad or another woman as nearly the parent I was. Now, I still think that's true for my kids (just kidding, their dad is a good dad and while we didn't make our marriage work we do work hard to support each other as parents, and in fact we both try to encourage good, loving relationships with the significant others we have moved on with also. Kids NEED more adults to love them and care for them, not fewer.).

My husband's ex and I actually get along ok. HE and she don't do so great, but their parenting relationship has grown from being another arm of their very bitter divorce to being a more cooperative experience. I would like to think I helped them get there, but really I think time usually does the trick. Their younger daughter has had some drug issues and some mental health problems and we have all worked on those as a team. It's not perfect. And we aren't "friends." But, we all keep the kid at the front, most of the time. I know there have been times where that wasn't the case, but we are getting better.

Rags's picture

^^^^^^ Like ^^^^^^^^

This is as it should be. Unfortunately far to often one side or the other ... or both ..... are incapable of being or unwilling to be reasonable intelligent adults about the whole situation.

We always gave the SpermClan the benefit of the doubt and without exception they missinterpreted that as weakness and they tried to manipulate. After the first few years of tolerating their manipulations we finally implemented the zero tolerance perspective and when they manipulated we punished using every legal tool and every resource in our arsenal. Eventually they learned to STFU and follow the rules.

We would have much preferred for them to work reasonably with us as we tried to do with them.

runninglawmom's picture

Oh, we had our years of less cooperativeness; we had to go back to court and retool the agreement they had rather foolishly agreed to in mediation, so that it was more effective and frankly so that anything at all could be enforced. My husband's ex was an alcoholic in her disease in those years and at one point she actually committed battery against my husband during a drunken episode, in front of their child. She was jailed and served a year's probation, during which time somehow things changed for all of us and we helped her find a dry out and clean up program. Believe me this was not a pleasant thing; she was reluctant to (finally) admit to her issues, which had been there since their marriage, and he was reluctant to forgive her and be a part of the solution, and I was reluctant to add any of this drama into my life, but - there were kids involved that needed us all to be adults.

I'm actually pretty proud of her for her two and a half years of sobriety, now that I think of it.

So, I do think that as time passes, and limits are set and enforced, sometimes the hardest possible way (imagine my DH having to explain to his kids that he had pressed the charges that put mom in jail!), things can be changed into a more workable situation. It's easy to stay in the mad and vindictive part and I am the first to admit that sometimes that's all that can happen. But, luckily for us, sometimes people can move forward and create something less tense.

doll faced sm's picture

What do you feel makes you qualified to make a judgement about the adults involved in the situation? I don't mean law school, the district hired me, or whatever else.

For example, our BM, to the world present a facade about loving and caring for her son more than anyone or anything else. She's *very* good at it. Her friends and co-workers, I'm sure, think she's mother of the year. Behind closed doors, however, when it's just her and family, she will hardly even look at her son. She depends on everyone else to parent for her.

So, how would you know that someone is putting on an act when they're so used to doing it and so good at it that they have everyone except people who have lived with them fooled?

runninglawmom's picture

Well it sure isn't law school ;-). That was boot camp for my mind, but it did zilch for my intuition or my powers of observation of humans.

I get fooled sometimes, I am very sure of that. We all do. There unfortunately are sociopaths, great liars, and evil folks in the world who put themselves above anything else, including their kids. There is no way anyone can correctly judge every other person, not even a GAL.

That said, I do think years on the planet (forty) and years in this profession (10) help some. I also think that there are some people who are just gifted at "the read" of people. I might or might not be naturally gifted, but I can tell you that over the long haul of a case I will rarely be wrong about my read of a situation. I try really hard not to take a side or make a judgment until I have had some time with the whole case, and I try to keep my cards pretty close to my vest, if you know what I mean. I sometimes even try to make a parent feel that I am on their side, just to see what they reveal when they feel comfortable - this is especially true of the ones I suspect are faking it, as you mention about the BM in your case. It's surprising how easily the "tricky ones" get tricked by a GAL acting friendly with them. If someone like your husband tells me that the ex is great at fooling people and she has everyone snowed, I almost always take the buddy buddy approach with that person, to make them feel I am fooled also. This works 9 times out of ten, to bring out more of the real person. Also, when talking to the child, it is unusual for a child not to know that mom or dad acts differently at home than when he or she is with others. The right questions to a child can bring out much of the truth as well.

stepmom23WV's picture

^^^^^^^^^ THIS^^^^^^
This is our BM too. Plus she has the kids lie. Can you tell if they are being told to lie and if they are lying? Also is the SM taken into account when you do your investigations since she is a big part of the family life at BDs home and she will also be helping care for the kids?

runninglawmom's picture

Most of the time, I can get kids to talk about what mom wanted them to say to me, yes. I can USUALLY figure out if kids are being coached or told to lie, especially kids under fifteen or so. I'm not a magician though, so there are always exceptions.

DEFINITELY stepmom is going to be a part of my investigation. Sometimes, though, stepmom being too involved backfires in the same way that it would if she refused to participate. I hate to see situations where it looks like stepmom is driving the bus on a modification or an abuse/neglect allegation. Both of those can make dad look pretty bad. Stepmom's role is important and her participation needs to be looked at as positive as long as she is appropriate - but part of being appropriately involved is knowing that role and sticking to it. It's unfortunate when a stepmom is focused on how bad mom is; even if that is true, let dad express HIS concerns because like it or not, mom and dad are the main players for this kid and if a stepparent is fixated on the negative about the other parent's home, that makes it hard for the child not to feel torn in his or her loyalties. So the main message here is, stepparents be present with the GAL investigation, but don't be too focused on the other household. You are a valuable addition to a child's life; focuss on what you can add and let mom and dad take the front positions as they should.

runninglawmom's picture

Definitely. I am a stepmom and I have the tendency to be very defensive of my husband and very mama bear about my stepdaughters. Both of those tendencies are things I have seen go very wrong as a GAL. So I can recognize them in other stepmoms sometimes, as a GAL, and it helps me to understand the underlying motivations of people which before I was a stepmom I would not have gotten.

nothinforya's picture

Would you ever agree to be called as a witness for a parent in a show cause hearing where you would be cross-examined by the other parent, and then be asked by the judge to "put on your GAL hat" and testify as the GAL for the child? This actually happened last week in a hearing where I was present with my husband in Virginia.

runninglawmom's picture

I would not "agree" to be called but most witnesses don't agree - they are subpoeaned, and must answer the subpoena by appearing to testify. In that case, of course I would testify, be examined and cross examined as to the facts I had observed, etc. It would also be ethical for me to then give my recommendations as a GAL. This is a long-held legal/ethical principle for GALs - we are both witnesses and semi-judicial figures by the nature of our role in a case. We can testify formally as well as give recommendations from a judgment perspective based on independent investigation. It's a weird role and hard for many to grasp I think. I usually give parents and kids an overview of what a GAL is, in my cases, so that there is no confusion. I am not your child's attorney in the traditional sense, and I owe no client a duty of confidentiality. I am the court's attorney, and more properly, the state's attorney as "parens patriae" of your children. Often I am introduced by well-meaning folks as the child's attorney and that is not proper; I am also not the attorney for the family or for either parent. Because I observe many things about the family and the child I can be called by either or both sides as witness; and because I am an arm of the court the judge can, will and should ask for my recommendation about matters pertaining to the child.

runninglawmom's picture

I can't answer specifics about what I would recommend or how a case should come out. That would be an ethical breach. I would just advise you to stay in close communication with your own attorney and to cooperate with the GAL, providing information as asked and being honest.
Sorry I can't be of more use!

runninglawmom's picture

Don't take this the wrong way - but do you know how many cases/kids your GAL represents? Your case is nearly two months out. She's done a heck of a lot, actually, given that timing.
I represent over 400 kids, myself. It's hard to explain to parents what that means in terms of time - but I did the math once and I am paid to spend 10 minutes on each child's case, each month. Yep. That is right. Ten minutes. And that's not at a lawyer's salary, billing 250 per hour, either. Not even close.

I'd say give the GAl some time, stop emailing her and wait till the first of November when she said her report would be in. She may or may not talk to the kids (and she can do that without arranging through you - GAL's can talk to kids at school with no notice to parents); it depends on whether she feels she needs to. Kids aren't always helpful to the investigation, believe it or not. They are labile and tend to have wants and desires that are about today and not about long term. I usually do talk to my over five years old clients, but sometimes it is just quickly before court, after I have read all the teachers' notes and therapists' reports and psych evals. I never ever meet in client's homes - it isn't professional and it isn't safe, sadly, so I would be surprised if she came to your home.

Overall, I would say wait for that report, read it, and THEN ask questions. For now, let her do her job. Most GALs are overburdened and underpaid (average salary for us, with doctorate education and often 100K in student loans - 40-50 K per year). We have caseloads you can't even fathom and most of us have a real heart for the work, but not nearly enough resources to answer daily emails or phone calls from the garden variety domestic situation as your sounds to be. I'm not trying to be rude, just trying to get you to be a little more realistic. In my world, seven plus weeks out (as you are now) is a lifetime and you are not truly on her radar yet. Give it time. Wait for the report.

AwesomeGal's picture

I don't have any questions, but I also wanted to thank you for coming here and helping. That is really wonderful of you to do that.

runninglawmom's picture

Not a problem. I want people to understand GALs are human too, and I hate how mysterious we seem to many as well as how hard the system is to navigate. It really does suck to be in the legal system without representation, and it's worse with bad representation.

texstep's picture

How do you feel about long distance parenting plans? What do you think is best for the child in a long-distance parenting situation?

runninglawmom's picture

I think that long distance parenting presents a pretty difficult challenge. I'd say that in those situations the common summer breaks, winter breaks, etc physical parenting time MUST be supplemented with very regular (ideally every night or every other night) Skype calls or the equivalent. It's great that we have technology that can help parents be more in touch with their kids at distances.

Rags's picture

Absolutely long distance is difficult and technology should be great tool for staying connected with a kid or parent.

Unfortunately for my SS his BioDad and the SpermClan rarely reached out to him in any way between long distance visitation. He spent three significant periods with them each year. 5Wks Summer (6Wks until kindergarten), one week Winter, one week Spring). They also had 10days with him in our area of residence in the Fall which they never once took during nearly 17 years under the CO. During that time the longest he ever spent with his "Dad" was a few days each visit and no more than about 5 days even over the long summer visitation. The short visitations he saw his dad maybe for a few hours one or two days. His time was with SpermGrandMa and SpermGrandPa who loaded him with so much toxic crap about his mother and I that it would take ~6wks to detox him after visitation.

Nothing has ever pissed me off more than when their attorney and a judge would say that it was in his best interest to have a relationship with these uninvolved toxic toothless dipshits. We never prevented that relationship, we occassionally paid for their half of visitation travel costs when they were too worthless to afford it. Of course when we did pay their half we later found that they were broke because the SpermIdiot bought new snowboarding equipment, or parts for his low rider, or the SpermGrandParents were having to raise yet another of his out of wedlock spawn ........... He has a total of 4 OOWL spawn by three different baby mamas. My kid is his oldest and our only.

We never initiated calls to the BioDad's side of the equation but we certainly let them know regularly what our contact information was including home, work and mobile numbers and our address. Even after we got the kid his own cellphone (8th grade) they rarely called him and rarely answered when he called them. Now that he is 20, mostly self supporting (with a bit of help from his mom and I and the usual ZERO help from the SpermClan) they still do not engage with him with any regularity and for the most part are non existant in his life except when they hear through the grapevine that he is planning to spend the holidays or visit with his mom and I or my parents or my wife's family. Then the guilt trip starts about how they never see him and it is not fair ......

I used to throw up in the back of my throat when they would whine in court about how hard it is to stay in touch with the Skid when we would counter their "we talk to him all of the time" with telephone records showing only a single call a few weeks before visitation to arrange travel. I grew up overseas and had to go away for HS when I was 15yo. My family maintained contact and remained extremely close even when we were half a planet away from each other and had only scheduled long distance windows to speak. As telecom got better we spoke more and more often and with the advent of fax, then e-mail, then texting, then VOIP and Skype we still speak several times a week though now it is my wife and I that live half a world away from our parents and our son.

sandby's picture

Thanks for taking questions.

I’ll try to be brief. My skids are 13 and almost 16 and they refuse to visit. My husband has barely seen them the past 2 years. He’s been to court multiple times trying to enforce his visitation rights, but nothing has happened.

The kids’ GAL is one of the major problems since she is very blatantly against my husband. I know a GAL is suppose to represent the kids’ interest, but shouldn’t she also tell the kids when what they want isn’t legally valid? No matter how their parents’ marriage ended or how they feel about their father, as minors they can’t tell their dad they don’t want to visit. But their GAL is making judgment calls about him and saying the kids shouldn’t have to visit when there is no legal reason they shouldn't.

The judge admitted that BM was in contempt of court but didn’t do anything about it and basically told my husband to stop trying to enforce the custody order because of the stress it was causing the kids. Every Friday when their dad is suppose to pick them up, the kids are hiding at friends’ houses and have told friends and teachers that their father is trying to use the police to kidnap them (meaning enforcing his right to visitation) and trying to put their mom in jail (which she should be for contempt of court and violation of visitation rights). They are in serious distress over this situation but no one will tell them the solution is to actually follow the custody order and visit their dad.

The other issue he has is because the kids have completely shut him out since their mother left him, he hasn’t been involved in school or any of the kids activities for 2 years. This has been spun against him in court that he is an uninvolved dad. The kids won’t speak to him on the phone or email. He tried to talk to several of his son’s teachers, but they didn’t want to deal with him because of the stories they’ve heard. When he went to his son’s cross country meet, other parents asked him to leave. He wants to be involved but he’s being shut out.

He’s tried talking to the kids’ GAL and get her to be a voice of reason, but she is so obviously against him. She understands what the situation is and still presents him in as negative a way as possible.

My husband’s attorney said there aren’t any more options and to drop it but he’s very angry that his ex-wife is getting away with this when if he didn’t pay child support, no one would be telling him that was fine.

Is there anything we can do?

runninglawmom's picture

I hate to echo what you seem to have already heard, but let me ask you something instead - what would you have the GAL do? Do you actually participate in her conversations with the kids, so you know for sure what is said to them? Because even if she tells them the court order says they must visit dad, if they tell her they do not want to go, there is nothing she can do. With kids this age, the cops and the judge won't do anything; neither can or will physically force kids to go with dad for parenting time. With younger kids it is much different; with older kids and teens the most that can happen is your attorney can ask that the judge talk to them, or that therapy be ordered to include kids and dad. Child support is irrelevant to parenting time - the kids must be supported whether they are doing what dad wants or not, just like in an un-divorced home.

Time is your friend; let the kids grow up, stop pursuing them in a way that is only making them hate dad. If they don't want regular visitation, how about dad takes them to lunch here and there, allowing the 16 year old to drive them to and from so they don't feel worried they will be "kidnapped?" This way dad has some relationship and maybe even builds positive feelings with them over time, and kids can lose some of the stress and negativity.

If this is not possible, there is not much anyone can do. I'm not sure how things got this way and it DOES NOT MATTER. read that again. Blaming mom, or dad, or the GAL, or the judge, will not achieve what you seem to want - a relationship with dad for the kids and vice versa. Figure out your real goal - and if that is it, work towards that. Sometimes the best way to work towards a relationship is to get the hell out of court.

reallifedrama's picture

Hi RunningLawMom,

Thank you for being willing to offer advice!
I am in Philadelphia. My husband had a lot of trouble with getting the BM to let him see his son on a regular basis. She would not talk to my husband when she was pregnant with his son (for 4 months), and told him he was born when he was 2 weeks old.

She called him out of the blue one day to tell him and ask him if he wanted to see him. When he did see him, he had to pay her a LOT, and could ONLY see him at her house.

He went to court and got the visitation fixed. He now has CO visitation(even though she had it stipulated that for 6 months he continue to see him at her house, and for 3 months, only for the day, alone). He gets his son EOW, alone, now.

He found out during court proceedings that his son does not have his last name.

Anyway, my husband wants his son to have his last name, but, he does not know how to go about doing this. Can he do this? Can he have it changed? If so, how? Does he need to have a paternity test done, even though he has a court ordered visitation and partial custody agreement?

Thanks in advance for your help.

runninglawmom's picture

Not usually. Mom had no obligation to talk to dad about the pregnancy, nor to name the child his last name. This is 2012, and while I understand it is traditional for babies to have dad's last name - it isn't the law that they must. This baby is just as much mom's as dad's, and this issue is only going to cause more legal costs and is not likely to get what dad wants. At best he may get the baby's name hyphenated - his and hers. Is that really worth all the trouble and strife? (And yes, he would have to have a paternity test done, although I am not sure why he has not done so already?)

Iamwoman's picture

The tradition of naming a baby out of wedlock after the father is relatively recent (as in within the past 100 years). Previously, any child born out of wedlock would receive the mother's last name. They were permitted to receive the father's last name only if the father openly admitted to paternity, and even then the choice was upon the mother.

Hey, I just wanted to say though, that I really appreciate your advice and insight on this forum!

My daughter was assaulted by her father this past summer, in addition to him spying on her in her underwear (she is 14 and fully developed). So she has now been assigned a GAL at my request. I am paying for the whole thing, because to save money, I got him to sign a stipulation instead of going to trial, and he would only sign if I paid for the GAL in full.

runninglawmom's picture

I think you sound pretty reasonable in taking into consideration what SD needs and wants. That will go far with GAL - the GAL will be more interested in going forward than looking at what "he did to me" and "she did to me" on each side.
For the summer - why not have one week out of each month off so that dad gets three full weeks, as well as every third weekend? That gives dad a nice long time with SD but gives SD the majority of her summer in her town with her friends.

runninglawmom's picture

Please explain why her hubby being "on orders" in Texas would matter? The child's custody will remain decided by the state that ORIGINATED the order - so unless that was Texas, it won't matter that she lives in Texas at age twelve.
Age twelve (nor any other age until eighteen) is not magic for custodial decisions - kids don't get to decide where they live. They may be able to state a preference (in an "affadavit" or in open court - neither of those is anything but a kid's opinion), but a judge is no more bound by that than if the kiddo said he or she wanted to live on the moon or only eat spaghettios. Kids are kids, and adults are adults. Parents get the final say, and if they can't agree, the judge "breaks the tie" so to speak, based on many factors. The child's desire is truly not even the major factor. The child's ties to a community, her school, her relatives, her friends, the living environment, and even what is called "status quo" all count more, and there is a simple reason for that. Kids "desire" to live somewhere is very often based on very immature reasoning; especially as young as twelve, the child will not have the maturity to decide what is truly best for them and very often they actually decide exactly the opposite, thinking living with mom (or dad) would be better because that parent gives them more of what they want - which may or may not be truly good.
I don't know your SD, but at ten, she is far too young to even have any say in her placement/custody, and for sure it isn't something that should be discussed with her routinely, because she may get the idea that she can then make this decision herself. I don't think you are trying to sway her or trying to poison her relationship with mom, but it could be seen that way - and just as easily it could turn on you. So, don't discuss custody matters with the child - it is not child business, but adult business. Don't count on her having a say, or a large influence in the judge's decision, whenever the custody case is heard.
And DEFINITELY discuss jurisdictional issues with an attorney - the court that heard the original divorce/paternity action will remain the court deciding where your SD lives, until she ages out of that state's law, barring some very specific provisions of the UCCJEA - and that is something you can't decipher without an attorney, most likely.

foreveretc's picture

Hello! I understand every case is different, as is every judge. but in your experience, how often will the judge rule against the GAL's recommendation? There is abuse on the mothers household, mother denies it, kids spoke openly with the GAL about it. Our judge was insistent on the GAL completing his work even after we had to go back to court to try to have her held in contempt after the mother stalled the case by not paying the deposit for months.

The GAL recommendation is in our favor. Im worried the distance between us and where they live now will change the judges mind?

runninglawmom's picture

In my experience, the judge very highly regards the GAL's recommendations. I can honestly say I rarely see a judge go against a GAL's recommendations especially as they pertain to custody. This is because the GAL is specifically assigned to do a thorough, independent investigation - something the judge cannot do, and something that the judge relies on the GAL to do.

That said, it does happen that sometimes the judge isn't persuaded by the GAL's recommendations, especially in very close cases. If there is truly abuse in the mother's home, that should be an easy call; if the abuse is documented and it is not a case of one parent claiming it so that the other parent loses custody it would be an easy call indeed. In your case it sounds like the kids are openly complaining of ill treatment and the GAL finds that credible and enough to move the kids. That's a very big point in your favor.

As an aside, the judge has to let the GAL finish his/her investigation, regardless of the contempt issue, because even if mom was in contempt, that doesn't mean your home is better. Now it sounds like it is, but the GAL has to look at BOTH homes and do a full investigation of where the kids will be better off - especially if abuse is one home - because what if BOTH homes are abusive in some way? This does happen, more than you realize. One home may have drug abuse and the other has domestic violence, or mom's house may have DV and dad's may have emotional abuse. Then the GAL has a harder job, figuring out which, if either, home the kids should be in.

SeekingSupport's picture

First - thank you so much for doing this.

My DH was screwed out of his rights before we were a couple. Now we're trying to bring the skids home. Brief background: I have been a part of his kids' lives since the middle one was born (he's 13). I was a friend of the family, and then eventually his friend (no - not *that* kind - not until BM swiped another woman's husband for her own)although I did have strong feelings towards him, I felt it was inappropriate to say anything even when he was separated from her. HE had been hoping for reconciliation. SHE is a ... well ... I digress.

Anyway - skids are 15, 13 & 11. All feel strongly about coming home to us. The two oldest would like to come back permanently, the youngest just wants everyone to get along. His solution is 1 year with us, 1 year with BM and her DH. BM routinely violates the CO around the holidays because she "can't afford" to pay 1/2 travel costs, as decided by the judge. We have missed holidays before because we were too broke to fly them 1000 miles home and then send them back as well. Although we try. We've also missed spring break because we couldn't get out to them, but she wouldn't help. She has cut our summertime short with them; she used money we gave her that was supposed to be for daycare to move them out of state (prior to the CO - this is where my DH got screwed), and now she thinks she can tell us HOW we can travel. We want to drive to get them and drive back. Actually, I was supposed to fly out and drive back, but she nixed that by stating that I'm not a good driver (I was good enough to be her DD back when we were friends, and I'm not the one who drives 70 mph while texting)

So we're both going to drive out and drive back - but are at a loss as to what we can do if she says she won't turn them over. Should we bring a copy of the CO with us? Should we contact a judge now?

Any advice would be welcome,


runninglawmom's picture

Contacting the judge now won't do any good. She hasn't violated the order for this visit. You could take her to court for contempt based on all the visits she has denied or cut short, and you might want to do this if you wish to change custody. But until that time, DOCUMENT EVERYTHING. Down to the hour, the dates, the emails, everything, so that her contempt is easy to prove.
For this visit, go to pick up the kids with the court order. If she refuses, call the police and ask them to go with your husband to enforce the order. Be aware that because this is a civil matter they may or may not help you. If the kids have cell phones, text them to come out with their bags. That would be the easiest way - because your DH has custodial time there is nothing BM can do if the kids leave with him, so long as he returns them on the court ordered date. She has no say in how you travel, but unless the court order specifies you as a pick up person, she doesn't have to let them leave with you - so it is good that DH is going.

Also - please don't keep going over the past. You are poisoning your own well. What happened then, and what BM did, is not your business and it is not relevant to now. This is still the kids' mom, and when you focus on how "bad" their mom is, you hurt them. Don't refer to your home as their only home - they have two. This isn't tragic or awful. The best gift you can give these kids is to look forward, not backward, to rise above and to show only respect for their mom. Give them the gift of a dad and stepmom they don't have to feel disloyal to mom with. OK?

the phoenix's picture

We are having a lot of issues with receiving regular child support payments from BM. The payments were determined 6 yrs ago based on her then much lower income and the assumption that the child would be with her one wkend a month. Visitation is erratic and support payments have been coming later and later, broken into increments, and threatened to not pay at all. Now, to add on to it, we find out that BM has moved (in with others), just had child there for visitation, and never even let us know even though we have full-custody. Do we have any legal recourse here??? I at least know that from the legal agreement that both parents need to disclose their address and any changes, but how do we go about getting this enforced??? HELP. Please.

Rags's picture

These issues are fairly easily rectified. On the CS issue, file a motion for a CS review and limitation of visitation with BM, show her speratic payment history and insist that the court invoke direct payroll withholding which is part of the Unifor Custody/Support/Visitation act. End of problem. CS will be directlyt withheld and direct deposited by the CSE office to your accunta. End of sporatic payment at least while she is employed at that employer.

As for the living conditions at the visitation household ..... have your attorney send a nasty letter to her notifying her that she must immediately comply with the requirements for visitation including the location of her residence and others residing at the location and failure to comply will result in immediate contempt charges, request for cesation of visitation and regular reviews of CS to drive it as high as possible.

We had to do these same things to beat my SS's SpermIdiot and SpermClan in to compliance with the CO. It worked very well. They were not happy but they did comply. CS got very regular after direct payroll withholding started and the kid got a bed when he was visiting the SpermCLan rather than having to sleep on the floor while the children of the live in GF of the month got the beds.

There is no need to be helpless in these situations. Read the CO, research the supplemental rules that are in place in your CO jurisdiction and read the applicable state laws. Use these tools to keep BM aligned with the CO and the best interests of your SKid and Family.

IMHO of course.

runninglawmom's picture

Dead on. Wink

Rags's picture

"Directly to your account" Sorry for the typo. I was a bit shocked by my typo when I re-read this post.

Giggles I am's picture

Hi there

My daughter needs a GAL and a prayer but the county where my custody/divorce is doesnt use them I was told. My daughter has been crying out for help against her father who is abusing her and noone in the state she lives in is listening. Her father my ex wont let me talk to her. I have emailed him texted him called to talk to them begged and pleated. I have talked to her in almost six weeks. The only communication I have had with her he doesnt know about because she has snuck and email here and there. She tells us that he is threatening her, that her step monster (that is what she is) told her if she wants to eat she had to eat out of the trash. She snuck out and sent us a package with a journal type letter she was keeping.

I am worried something is going to happen and instead of this little tiny county listening they think I am being the "vindictive exwife." I am sorry but this is why child abuse is so high.

This is just the short sweet version of this story my daughter was out here where I live for the summer and called protective services and they believed her where I live but because it happened where the ex is they denied it. She also called the police and filed a restraining order. Sadly the ex convinced the judge it was a custody ploy and they pulled jurisdiction so the state I live in can do nothing. They have raised my child support both my children are flunking out of school something is going to happen where my daughter is concerned and no one seems to care.

She will be 17 in a week and it is going to be a long 12 months. Sad as well.

If there is something you can do to help that would be awesome or even direct me some where. I want to help her but they are coming after me instead.

runninglawmom's picture

You need to call CPS in HER county.

At seventeen she may actually be able to leave home and come to live with you, with your ex having no real recourse. Check her state's law, NOT yours.

NO county can prevent you from having a GAL. You have been misinformed. Now, getting one appointed is harder when you don't have an open Child Abuse and Neglect case or an open divorce, but it can be done. The first thing to do is call in a hotline - and have your daughter call one in herself. She goes to school. She can tell a teacher she is being abused, and that will guarantee an investigation, because teachers are mandated reporters. She can tell her doctor, also, or her school counselor. If she truly feels afraid to live at home she should tell one or all of these people that she does. She could even go to a dv shelter - they are usually in the phone book and you have to call them to get the location, because they are always secretive.

Giggles I am's picture

Thank you for your help but she called protective services when she was here. The state I live in came out and did and interview and everything. they believed her. She even filed a restraining order against her father and it was granted on a temp basis but then the state where her father lives convinced the state where I live that they had jurisdiction. Sadly the courts in which pulled rank was mad because they thought I was behind it and step on their toes. So they are coming after me for contempt and all sorts of things. I am not afraid and I will go to jail to protect my children but this is wrong on so many levels. The state I live in sent their report to the state he lives in and it took them almost three months to complete nothing and then they denied it in the state my ex lives in when I called to ask why because it didnt make any sense they said they talked to Doctors that she had seen more than six month prior. I asked if they talked to her drs she was seeing while she was with me and the lady said no we didnt have too. I asked why not. They said because they got all the information they needed. I was really upset. I said I want this investigation reopened. I want you to talk to the drs out here and I want you to talk to neighbors and people who have been around her more current then six months ago. Then you can make your decision. The lady doesnt care. and that is the problem NOONE Cares. Everyone one has made this about me, about him about custody. Yes I know that custody has something to do with it because she is a minor but that isnt the issue here she doesnt feel safe, she doesnt want to be there and I know something is going to happen.

This is killing me. I am paid ungodly child support, I get messages all the time about things people who live around them have heard or seen. I cant afford a big time lawyer for this small town BS This past monday I received a package from her. Apparently what I know from the lady at the post office my daughter was alone and paid cash for the package to be sent which mean the ex doesnt know she sent it. My the contents of the box I would bet he doesnt know she sent it. It was 15 pages of journal letters hand written from her begging for help. NOONE CARES...

The problem is it is in a small county. Sadly the good ol boy network really does exsist. Apparently I am not a good ol boy. Seriously though I have taken responsibility for things I havent done just to get it over so we could move on, I have delt with things no human should have to deal with and I have done nothing wrong. I have let the past go but my daughter is suffering for something she had nothing to do with and just because she is fighting for herself and making it known what she wants. Again she has told people but he smiles at these people and they dont believe her. Even the people that know the truth dont stand up. The principal of her school last year knew and didnt report it because there are no bruises and no physical proof.

I believe her and sadly I dont know what I can do. I have called senators, I have called CPS, I have called the court, I have called the sheriff just as she did. Doesnt matter. My daughter is going to become a statistic and then everyone will shake their heads and say we didnt see any warning signs and gosh I wish we did more to help...

There is a national case that hit the news out of florida. a mother disappeared the father had custody and then he set fire to his house with the kids in it and then killed himself. Now the grandparents are on the news screaming that they tried to tell people that something
wasnt right but they just werent sure what and noone listened. When I first heard that story I thought come on who wouldnt listen when children are involved....the answer noone listens. Even when you have enough to prove something is going on.

I wish I was able to advocate for children I wish I was smart enough to know to scream to, to change this stuff. Noone is going to save my daughter, I know that and I also know that I cant do anything. I live with that every day. I feel responsible and so guilty but I know she isnt the only one in this position. They need to be protected. Physical abuse is not the only kind of abuse and just because you cant see it with your eyes doesnt mean it isnt happening.

Im sorry to put this out there. I am scared and very worried...

SanAntonioSoccerMom's picture

The state you live in has ZERO jurisdiction over your case or your children. It has to be done in their state of residence as it hold jurisdiction over your case. Has she reported abuse to her school? Has she told a neighbor? If these were my children I'd be in my car now going to pick them/her up. At 17 there is little your ex can do about it.

runninglawmom's picture

EXACTLY RIGHT. Jurisdiction isn't anyone "playing with you" it is the federal law and not negotiable. So, the other state (and your state) had no choice.

Giggles I am's picture

Im sorry to tell you this but she was here with me and he came to my state and enforced custody and my state allowed it...he took her from school using the sheriffs department here to do it. she was screaming and kicking and saying she wasnt going and she would run away. It was so bad the sheriff took them to the airport. Because they didnt want her to run away...

The ex has found ways and now I am looking jail for contempt...I did nothing wring my daughter called all of the authorities and even posted a video on you tube she did with her step brother setting the record straight...NOONE is listening. They are coming after me instead.

Jurisdiction in the tiny town has its own laws.

She leave with me or any one else and she is runaway and I am kidnapping no matter what her age unless she is 18. I am telling you on the record for all that can read this something is going to happen. I dont know what I dont know when but I know her and I know something is going on there. I also know she wouldnt have risked mailing me letters begging for help if it was serious.

Yes she has told many of people that things are going on and what he is doing and saying they havent done anything about it. Part of the problem is it is her word against his. There are no bruises because most what she is saying is just threats and ugly talk. Like if she doesnt forget me he will put her in foster care...he wont let us talk to her at all. He tells her she is going into a group home or assisted living when she turns 18....her step mother told her if she wanted to eat she could eat out of the trash. They call her names and treat her like she is a prisner in the house.All of the scars are mental and emotional.the ex made her wait four months before he got her new glasses after they broke. Even though I came into town to try and get her new ones. I offered to pay for them and unless I sent the money direct to him he would do it. He has told her everything is my fault and I dont love her. He has told her I am a deadbeat and other choice names. According to her he has made her sleep in the shed in the backyard as a punishment.

People know this hell its all public record in the court system...

The judicial system has failed her....but again I wish I could help others. No child should have to go thru this.

SanAntonioSoccerMom's picture

If your ex has a valid court order he can enforce it in any state. Because you moved to a new state does not mean the previous court order no longer exists.

Why are you facing contempt? What are you in contempt of?

runninglawmom's picture

He has custody - his state has jurisdiction. your state MUST ENFORCE THAT STATE'S ORDERS. I don't think you are understanding how the law works, and it would behoove you to have a free consult with a local attorney to have this explained thoroughly.

If she is TRULY BEING ABUSED she can contact CPS in her OWN STATE - the state that actually controls her. You also may need to seek some counsel - both a therapist and an attorney - to help you deal with the complex and emotional issues happening in your life.

Rags's picture

It is my understanding and our experience in our own Custody/Visitation/Support case that the jursdiction where the CO is issued retains Jurisdiction as long as either parent remains a resident of that Jurisdiction. If they remain in the state but move to a different county then the Jurisdiction will shift to the state resident parent's new county of residence. The parent who moves out of state bears the burden of dealing with the legal issues in the other state.

We never lived within 1200 miles of the state where my SS's CO was issued. My DW had moved out of state for college and took SS with her when he was about 14mos old. She had already been granted full physical and legal custody so going out of state for school was not an issue. Most likely because the SpermClan never read the CO anyway and had no clue what it said or what either party could or could not do.

When they heard we were dating they filed for custody but were denied that motion during the next hearing which occurred the week after we married.

3mos after we married we moved to Texas. The county where we lived for 12 years had an interesting law. Once the child had resided in the county for 6mos Jurisdiction could be shifted to the child's county of residence. Since Texas is a very conservative state and we lived in one of the most conservative counties and SpermLand (Oregon) is a very liberal state our Tx attorney was confident that if we made the motion that jurisdiction would shift to our location. This gave us a lot of leverage. If we moved Jurisdiction CS would have likely quickly gone up by ~800% (at that time it was only $110/mo). This was a huge stick to hold over the heads of the SpermClan since the SpermIdiot was on a single handed quest to fill every available under aged womb in the PacNW with his seed and the SpermGPs were paying his CS and visitation travel costs. Ultimately he spawned 4 OOWL children by three differnt baby mamas. The three younger spawn were or are all raised in the SpermGP's home while they pay CS to the baby mamas. My SS is his eldest and our only.

Ultimately we did not ever make a motion to shift Jurisdiction because though CS would have gone way up visitation would have likely more than doubled. We never needed the money and for sure no amount of money was worth forcing the kid to spend any more time with the shallow and polluted end of his gene pool than necessary.

We called CPS in SpermLand on two occassions. Once on the SpermClan when SS was thrown out of a second story window into some bushes below when he was ~4yo and the second time on my ILs when my SIL was living in their cess pool of a home. Neither time did anything come of it.

Good luck with your efforts and stick to your guns.

runninglawmom's picture

I'm not exactly sure what is being asked here - there is no "GAL program" nationally nor in any state nor in any law school. GAL is a job title, and even the description and qualifications vary from state to state. In my state, only an attorney can serve as a GAL. In other states, laypersons may do so. The training required is varied, from state to state, also. In my state, I was required to take twelve hours of Child Abuse and Neglect specific training - on everything from drug abuse to physical abuse and domestic violence to services and resources to child development and the legal system from the eyes of a child, and I am required to take three hours yearly to refresh my legal education on this subject.
If I could change one thing in my own job it would be the caseload - I am one GAL and I currently serve 441 kids (changing daily, sadly, going upwards). I am even considered part-time by the poor county which pays me - they just can't afford to pay full-time, nor can they afford to have legal assistants or secretaries for me to spread the administrative or contact work out. I do my job because I love my GAL kids and I know kids' best interests -their real interests, not the interests their parents have for them- are often overlooked and misunderstood.
I should not that I am very rarely involved in domestic GAL work these days - currently I just have one case in that arena, and I have only had a few, because I find that system is mostly about parents who are not grown up enough to put their kids above their selfish or misguided interests. In the domestic realm far too many parents are worried about what the other parent did to them in the marriage, or how much money they will pay/receive in the support arena, or feel that since they are "done" with the other parent, their child should be also. I have advised many parents - and will advise all here - you chose that person to make a baby with. Don't make the kid suffer because you regret your choice. Grow up, give in a bit, and stop thinking about your emotions and your money and your baggage. Don't bad mouth the other parent, not to the kids, not to the new "love interest" and not to the general public - you chose them. Hear it and shut up - YOU CHOSE THEM. If you have come to a point in your divorce where a GAL has been appointed, realize that means something about YOU - and try to fix it.

runninglawmom's picture

This would be similar to a CASA program - not the kind of GAL I am speaking of. The GAL title that overrarches that "program" would probably be that of an attorney, and we are only regulated by the state bars. The program in MN clearly states staff and volunteers (like CASA has) but isn't an attorney GAL "program" so in my mind it is very different. Those are awesome folks who are underpaid or not paid at all, but who do receive training in very specific representations to the court.

As to the real interests of a child - those are a balance of mom's interests, dad's interests, the extended family and community as the child relates to it, the child's own opinions and desires, the educational and medical interests of the child as the state has seen fit to author in statute, the ability of either "side" of the family (or the intact family in cases where children are removed for abuse, neglect or substance or mental health issues) to make the child whole within the home - these are not easy, uncomplicated things to weigh. For instance, a mom or dad in my job may feel "it's only weed" they are addicted to, and therefore not feel that it is at all related to their child's interests. They would be wrong under the law. In a divorce, a mom may feel that limiting dad's contact to his stated parenting time may be in the child's "best interest" because that's what the decree says - but that mom could very well be wrong in the eyes of the child or in the nature of the law if that contact limitation harms the child. The dad may feel that mom's new husband is a "bad guy" and want to bad mouth him to the child, and that it is in the child's "best interest" to tell the child "the truth" about stepdad as dad sees it, but that too may damage the child in a way that is irreperable. Parents have some say, but by the time they get to a GAL, they don't have the only say.

It is always best in my opinion, when you can form an alliance with the other parent of your child, parent according to the laws of your state whether married or not, and work together to keep your child out of the court system, either in the CAN court OR the endless merry go round of divorce and custody modifications. No one wins, not really, when you can't come to your own parenting terms together - and the biggest loser is your child.

carolinagrl83's picture

My fiance's 11 y/o son was removed from his mother's home last month when she was incarcerated for multiple charges, including child abuse/neglect. Instead of my fiance being called to step in, or even his mother, the child was placed into a foster home. Fiance had to drive the 6 hours to SC to attend a hearing and request that his son be placed with his mother until our home can be evaluated by ICPC for permanent placement. She received a letter from DSS stating that the State still has custody and that he is still technically in foster care, just with a relative. I am confused as to how this can still be considered "Foster care" if he is with his grandmother?? I do not understand why fiance was not ever contacted. Also, how long does this process take for fiance to get custody of his son? The biological mother will not be released from jail anytime soon, and DSS has already stated that they do not want the child in her custody again.

runninglawmom's picture

If the social service office did not have ready access to local contact info for DH, they are not authorized to search for him in an emergency situation such as the one you describe. I assume they did eventually locate him (through his mom?) but since the child was already in the legal custody of the state, he cannot be sent to his father until the ICPC is complete. This process is long and arduous - it is not unheard of for it to take six months, honestly, and that is if your home is immediately approved with no concerns. It's a "between the states" issue and it's quite ridiculous, but it cannot be avoided now.

The child is in "foster care" technically because he is not with either parent and is in the legal custody of the state, not a parent.

Be patient and cooperate with the ICPC process. Definitely be forthcoming with them - if you have any felonies, drug charges (you OR your fiance) or any child abuse or neglect history this will be a barrier to reunification with dad, so any of those would best be addressed honestly to your ICPC worker.

The Triangle's picture

THANK YOU! I just posted a post in the court forum about sole or joint legal custody. Can you help?

runninglawmom's picture

It is frustrating, I can imagine. It is frustrating, too, for the GAL. If mom was doing everything she was ORDERED to do by the judge then there is very little room for the GAL to argue that the she shouldn't have her visits restored. Even though mom didn't cooperate with the GAL, she did cooperate with what the judge said she had to do to get visits, so there wasn't much ground to keep her from them. I have this all the time - I KNOW in my gut that certain parents are bad news and are bad news to their kids, but until I have real solid proof, or they are breaking a court order, I can't recommend against contact - judges don't work on gut feelings, they need proof for their decisions. It stinks to know someone is bad news and yet have to let them DO bad things before you can make a move.

LittlePanda's picture

I am not sure if you are still answering questions, but, I posted this in another forum and was re-directed to you! Please tell me what you think:

"Quick rundown..we are in the midst of a custody "battle" and have a GAL assigned to the case. BM is in jail, has been for the majority of the last 2 years. Husband has physical custody and BM, husband AND myself share joint legal custody of the step kid.

So my husband and I each got a huge packet in the mail to fill out about ourselves and our lives, etc..99% of it was about work and mental health history. My husband also called on his behalf and on mine to set up a meeting at the request of the GAL. That was about a week ago. Today the GAL calls my husband back and tells him that my presence won't be necessary at the meeting and that she would like to speak with just him. I am wondering why this is. We have heard from relatives and friends that this GAL has contacted them and interviewed them about the entire situation. Why would the GAL not want to speak to me? I know I am not the parent, and I sure as hell am glad of that, but come on?? I am on the docket, I am custodial, and I have been in step kids life for over 3 years. Seems like she would want to speak to me. TBH I am kind of glad that I don't need to go though.

Any insight or speculation would be nice."

Note- I do not think that she wants separate interviews bc my husband explained that she said my packet was enough and that I would be contacted if I was needed.

runninglawmom's picture

Please point out to me what state you are "custodial" in - and the language in your court order awarding YOU custody - you, not your husband.

IAMGOOD's picture

My husband and I thought about using a GAL but we spoke to 3 different attornies that all concluded that the process wouldn't serve us. We have 50% custody and the BM has exercised parential alienation from day one. Although it was clear that she chose to leave my husband for her best friend's husband & this man was also very close to my husband; she still wants to punish my husband. I met my husband 2.5 years after his divorce & moved in with him 2 years ago and I caught on to all the comments that the kids were being fed. Comments like: because of you dad we had to live in apartment! Actually - she moved into an apartment downtown and her "boyfriend" moved in nearby so they could party together at the local bars and cover up their relationship until they felt it safe to come out of closet. My husband also had to pay his ex a couple hundred thousand in equity so he could keep the house. They have 50:50 custody.

The comments continued on and one by one I started stepping in and saying otherwise. My step daughter told me one day that dad doesn't care about me cuz he doesn't pay the lunch bill (which he most certainly does).

Neighborhood child says out loud one day while my husband is picking up his kids "he doesn't deserve to have his kids".

This BM nightmare then rents a LARGE house couple streets over from us but insists on still using OUR bus stop so for the 1st 1.5 years I moved in she parked 4 times a day 2-3 days a week in front of my office window to drop/pick up her kids. We finally had to put foot down & say use your own bus stop. She responded by getting the kids upset & then they were angry with us. THAT happens regularily. BM discusses everything with the kids in a way to enrage them or pin them against us.

This continues on. She emotionally punishes them when they seem like they are having too much fun at our house. We fought for over a year to stop her from encroaching on our time - she completely disrespected boundaries - and undermines us every chance she gets. We have done nothing but supported the agreement & been positive but this is not reciprocated.

We have my SS in counseling since last April due to legal letter we sent to BM. She also was resisting counseling. I wonder why? She LIES to the counselor but we slowely have made headway in stopping the kids from being placed in the middle.

It is a situation that I really don't think any GAL could SEE. This BM knows how to use the kids, maniupulate, and is "under the radar". She will not use the child support to buy them clothing. We have 50% custody and pay her $1500 a month but still buy 90% of the clothing. She hasn't bought shoes for either child for over 3 years.

STill - 3 attornies - 2 counselors - and same opinion.

If we take it to court it will back-fire as our SS is already being pressured to choose sides and this will just push him a way further.

We are finally gaining ground with him. We are getting him back emotionally but it has taken an unbelievable amount of patience and love. From week to week this can change. Rollercoast ride with his emotions.

The BM also plays the popular parent. Won't enforce any rules and as a result the young man has no interests and started doing poorly at school last year. The counselor set up parenting plan that BM fights for the kids behalf. Most recent agreement limits him to 3 hours of electronics time on a school day and SHE has an issue with that.

I wish there were easy answers. What I can say to anyone out there is NIP this in the butt as soon as you see this happening with your kids. Get them in counseling right away and keep givign unconditional love to your children. No matter what attitude they come in with - talk to them - tell them you love them - and don't stop being a parent.

That's all. This has been one of the biggst battles of my life. I have 2 kids of my own and my x and I do a great job co-parenting. It shows in my kids. They are flourishing and I want the same for my 2 step children.

runninglawmom's picture

I honestly think one of the best things you can do is BACK OFF. These are your spouse's kids, and his ex is their mom. You are a legal stranger and a hinderance to this situation - and the reason I know this is how you led off with this post. Stop worrying about things that happened before you came along - you have one side of the story ( and please don't tell me your inlaws, the neighbors, the kids, the dog, verified your DH's story, I really do not care!), and you are clinging to that to villify mom.

Mom is the kids' mom. Period. End of story. Disengage (read about this online, please) and stop being a part of the picture in terms of legal and parenting decisions. Focus on your kids and on your marriage. In reality it doesn't matter a damn where mom parks to pick up or drop off her kids at the bus - and you making a big deal out of it makes YOU look like a big problem. Cut out the "We" and "our ss" - there is no parental "we" for your spouse's kids that involves you, and this is not your spouse's ss - it is his SON.

Love these kids enough to STOP making their mom a bad guy. Nothing here is PAS and it certainly is not abuse or neglect; nothing here warrants a GAL, at least not that would come out in your favor. If I came into your home, heard these "woes" and your presentation of the situation (and note, it isn't your spouse here, it is you, a legal stranger with no rights to bring any kind of legal action for the kids) I would immediately spot a blaming stepmom with a case of the too involved,and a strong feeling of entitlement to tell mom how to spend child support. Don't get me wrong - you could technically be "right" about her spending, her parenting, and her past affairs. But guess what? NONE of these are any of your business legally, and all of them make you a problem. It is you fixating on things that aren't your business that is at least a part of the kids' problems, and a part of why their relationship with dad isn't as strong as it might be.

You married this man knowing he paid x amount, had x number of kids that were not yours and that he had a woe is me tale about his x. Grow up and be part of the solution. Point out positives for him, remind yourself that child support money is not and never was yours to comment on, and get yourself and him both off of the "she done him wrong" ship that is sinking these kids. Again, she may very well be a whore from whore planet and she may shop all day on the child support the STATE determined was rightfully hers, but that is not any business of yours - it's all done and over. She is the only mom these kids will ever have and until you at least attempt to act respectfully about that, and shut your mouth (tape it if you must) about child support, her parenting, and where she parks her car (seriously???? do you spend time watching things like that???), you will keep dad from a good future here. If you love him, and if you care about his kids - move on. STOP. Three attornies have tried to give it to you like it is, but you have refused to listen - so I am a fourth attorney, telling you, the process isn't going to get you anywhere. He has fifty fifty. Most men would KILL for this so shut it, move on, and be grateful.

Love your husband enough to acknowledge that the children he had before you were created with a woman of his choosing, and they will always have her as their mother. Take a back seat. Stop trying to force issues that are so petty they make me want to scream and must truly infuriate and frustrate the children caught in the middle.

ItsGrowingOld's picture

"Again, she may very well be a whore from whore planet and she may shop all day on the child support the STATE determined was rightfully hers"

This was the funniest thing I have read on this site for some time.

And, the advice you gave is SPOT.ON! (if only I knew when to stop getting so emotionally caught up in DH's pain and suffering regarding his children Sad )

Thank you for this insight. I will be sure to pass it on.

runninglawmom's picture

I'm not sure what answer you want here. Is your DH wanting to keep your SD with you somehow? Mom has her rights as far as I read here, and you don't have any rights to this child, so if he dies, the child should be turned over the "DCF" so they can locate her mother, should you not wish to keep her.

Just so you know, don't take legal advice from DCF either. You aren't "stuck with" SD - in fact, quite the opposite, you personally have no legal rights nor responsibility for her, if your DH dies. Even with him alive, your rights are very limited and your responsibility is almost none at all. It sounds like a complicated situation, but I understand more than you think about this kind of situation and frankly, it isn't as bad as many of its kind.

What do you actually want to happen? The tone of your post suggests you want rid of this girl - and if that is the case, you need to express this to your husband.

Burntoutsecondwife's picture

Good morning,

First, thank you for your time. I am about at my breaking point, and need some advice. My husband and his ex are currently trying to figure out the details of a 50/50 shared parent plan. They both agre to Dad has the kids on Monday and Tuesdays. THey both agree that Mom has the kids Wednesday and Thursdays.

Dad wants the kids every other weekend. Mom wants to split time every weekend which involves trading the kids off every Saturday night at 9 pm. She refuses to budge on this one point. When we go back to court will the magistrate just rule one way or the other or will he actually appoint a GAL and drag this whole thing out over this one point? She's also having a fit a about CS changing, but that is completely out of her hands fortuantly. Oh, we are in Ohio.

Thanks for any advice!

runninglawmom's picture

It's not likely a GAL will be appointed here; it would be a waste of money. A mediator might be required - or the judge might just make his/her own decision based on the best interest of the kids.

Why is mom wanting the 9 pm Saturday thing? What is her point in making this a sticking issue, do you know? Does she want every Friday and Saturday "off" and just to get them at bedtime Saturday and for Sunday? What ages are the kids in question?

Burntoutsecondwife's picture

She claims it is because it isn't her best interest or the best interest of the chldren to go an entire weekend without either parent, but it is my opinion that she's doing it to be difficult. She hates me. She doesn't want her kids here when my kids are here either. She wants to make our lives as difficult as it can be. My husband even offered to let her stop by on our weekends (assuming we didn't have plans or something) and let her pick the children up and take them to church with her. Her initial reasoning was she couldn't go 5 days ever without seeing her kids. She honestly just wants to be difficult. Thoughts?? Thanks so much!

Oh and they are 9 and 12. I have three chldren as well in the home 4, 6, and 11.

Burntoutsecondwife's picture

Now, BM will agree to every other weekend as long as it is the on the opposite of the weekend that we have my kdis so the kids will never be together on a weekend - ever. Will a GAL or judge agree to this? We have it in writing where she basically emailed him and said that she doesn't care about how this impact my kids and that she doesn't want them spending time together. What do you think a judge will say to this?

We do have an attorney, but he is rather expensive and he is slow at responding. Again, thank you very much for being will to help.

pixiedust10's picture

I have a quick question...We have a mother who filed false abuse charges against the father right before a custody hearing where her attorney withdrew due to her lies and lack of cooperatino. Those charges were dropped by a lack of evidence and the pending custody trial, but before that hearing she then got the kids taken from HER due to neglect and abuse. She had a chance to have the kids be with their father as recommended by a GAL, three social workers, and a prosecutor for the state, as to not be in the family court system, and she said NO in a mediation. What would be your first instinct? Just curious. Smile Thanks so much for the great advice you have given. I have a million things I could ask you, but was just curious as to what your first instinct would be about this mother.

runninglawmom's picture

As a GAL in abuse and neglect proceedings, I would ask for mom to be given a psychiatric evaluation, to participate in regular counseling, and to take a parenting class. I would ask for her to have supervised visitations with a parent aide supervising her visits to assure she was attaining parenting skills and learning to make better choices, since based just on what you have said, she is a lady who needs some help putting the kids first. If dad passed all background and CAN checks, the kids would be with him until mom got her act together and earned unsupervised contact, and when she did they would go fifty fifty with the kids.

pixiedust10's picture

Thank you! Those things are sort of happening. Meaning, FDH's had all his evals and checks coming back fine and is taking parenting classes on his own that aren't mandated.(Yet) She isn't taking parenting classes, and she needs a life coach to explain to her what is going on with her kids and refuses to accept that they got taken from her for her actions. She blames everyone else and has told DFCS she can do a better job than they can taking care of the kid and she's the only one who really knows what's wrong with one of the SS's that he's living in a long-term behavioral group home/dorm per se on the campus of a mental health facility.

goingcrazy00's picture

BM is taking the CO back to court for modifications. Among some of her complaints is that she states that my SO refused to pay for therapy for the kids that she feels they need. SO has never stated that he will refuse to take/pay for therapy but he just doesn't believe the kids need it. I feel like the kids do need it and it's the one thing I can agree on with BM. I've even looked up therapists and given them to SO to look into. The problem is that neither of them are actively working toward getting the children to see a therapist. I'm confused as to why she would use this to ttry to put him down as being neglectful of their mental health...and then try to change the 50/50 custody to her having more time when the kids have been accustomed to even time in both homes.

My SO does believe that she does things that may push the kids into needing professional help in the near future. One of them being that she is always accusing the oldest one of lying and has no problem accusing us in front of him that we make him lie to her. The biggest issue we've had is her calling CPS twice on us...both times unsubstantial. But to put the kids through what goes through CPS investigations not once but twice just to purposely hurt the kids dad makes me so upset. In situations like this, what kinds of things do you say or suggest to either of the parent? How does the court view accusations like this?

Constant work's picture

My husband had 50/50 custody with his wife since she took him back to court a few years ago. Prior to that, he had 90% because she left town and abandoned the kids when they were babies. The first time she decided she wanted custody, she accused his father of molesting the kids. This was of course proven false, but the judge felt sorry for her and gave her 50% time. She tried to claim impropriety with another family member when My DH and I started dating and we quickly shut that down. We found out that she was making Boarding school applications for my DH's oldest daughter. My husband has sole education rights. We took her to court asking her to follow the decree and not make any more educational decisions. Long story short, she turned around and accused my son of abusing the oldest daughter (her third claim). Oldest daughter denied my son had done anything wrong in CPS recorded interviews and talked about how her mother exaggerates situations to suit her purpose. (We have a movie room and they fell asleep having a movie marathon one weekend sleeping on different rows of seats, and her mother is claiming they slept together.) The Mother told my SD that if she didn't go along with the story, that there would be consequences, per my SD when she called her aunt crying for help. The court has chosen to ignore all evidence to the contrary and has given the mother whatever she wanted. The Amicus never met our son and was very hostile with us from the very first meeting. This is the same judge that felt sorry for BM the first time and has a history of punishing fathers. She wont listen to any of our proof that nothing ever happened, but has broken every process and law to give the kids to the mom. I'm not even exaggerating.We now have suits in Texas and Federal courts as the judge has lost her mind. How can a judge get away with not following process or the law!!!!

Neighborhood mom's picture

Okay, I will try and make this understandable, but short because it would take forever to explain. 4 years ago a woman moved in beside me with her 11 biological children. immediately they migrated to my backyard. mom would disappear all day. I started feeding them, giving them drinks when no one else would, etc. in the year she was beside me, I raised her children. she was pregnant with #12 when she was evicted. I would still continue to go to her house and get them because of sibling abuse. I had heard stories about sexual abuse but it wasn't confirmed until later.
Shortened version...Mom married a man she let rape her 4 boys from a 1st marriage. years later those boys are the abusers to her smaller children in every way abuse was possible. In Aug of 2016 I got calls from DCS and police to come for her children. This was the 50th time I knew DCS was involved but she wasn't getting away this time even though DCS had been told the truth on many occasions over the years about how she was a neglectful mother. I took home 9 of her children under the age of 18. After the 1st DCS meeting she got back the 4, 3, and 1 yr old and demanded the 16 yr old to take care of them otherwise she wouldn't have taken them. the school aged children were left with me because she wasn't responsible enough to keep them and send them to school. she voluntarily turned them over and in the state of TN that means she has all rights.
this woman had 22 open DCS cases and she was in a motel room with 22 people (including the children). How did she get them back I am unsure. over the next couple of months, she had no contact with the 5 kids left in my home. I had no assistance from anyone, not even food stamps. I have 3 of my own and that gave me 8 children. mom refused to take them to the DR even though they were already diagnosed ADHD and had been off meds for over a yr. the 6 yr old I have had fever for 3 days and she refused to take him to the DR so I told her to take him to the ER but she took him to the motel overnight and made him lie to me, of course he told me though.
on Nov 3 the girl I have, 7 yrs, told me that her brother (16 yrs at the time, she was 5 yrs) made her have sex with another brother, 11 yrs, 9 yrs at the time). mom knew and did nothing. it wasn't just that. it was hot light bulbs on the face causing 3rd degree burns, hit in the head with whatever was close even baseball bats, bricks, etc. I went to DCS and told them the 5 yr old girl was living in the home with the brother I was accusing. they told me if I couldn't handle the children to take them to their mother at the motel. I filed for custody the same day. we went to court and I was granted temp legal custody of the children in my home. they are all mentally unstable, which in the environment was a given, but I am told if I don't want them they would go to 5 homes for 5 children because no one could handle more than one of them.
at court I made demands that if mom ever wanted her children back she had to do. for the 1st time in their lives they have a bed of their own, their own clothes, their own space, protection, a birthday, holidays, etc. things mom never gave. I demanded a mental health eval because she had to be crazy. it was all ordered and the "babies" (5,3,1, and the 16 yr old) were all put in temp state custody. mom failed her eval and I have been told many times she isn't a good mother. she doesn't do what they say, etc. they are constantly holding her hand. she still skips visits with the children in my home but goes to the ones in state custody like clockwork knowing they are watching her.
my GAL is going to eat her alive. she is amazing and I do respect her. she has been on my side 100% until recently.
the babies are going up for adoption because no one in her family is qualified to get them. she is pushing to put severe child abuse, severe neglect, and dependency charges on mom for many things. (letting the children go blind without care, abuse from siblings, sexual abuse, mental abuse, physical abuse, no schooling, etc.) I call my GAL and explain that I have raised those babies. they are mine. even the boy turning 4 calls me mama. I tell her I will get a bigger home and take them. I refuse to let my babies go up for adoption. I can't do it. it doesn't matter that I have 8 children, I have done everything for these children from the start and they are different children than when we started. some days people wouldn't even know I have 8 kids. I even had 9 on weekends when the 16 yr old was being released to me for home visits. when I told DCS I wanted the babies, they tell me I can have them all if I get a bigger home to keep them together. my Gal is telling me she is refusing to sign her name on a paper giving me those children because the ones in my home will grow up to be sexual abusers and no judge, gal, or dcs worker will agree. we have no communication with anyone and I can never get a straight answer. I told her that I won't just give up, I can't.
I took care of these children plus mine on a daily basis when mom couldn't handle it or when they were being harmed at home. they spent summers at my house for their protection. this is nothing unusal for me and I don't think they will become abusers just because they are now 11,10,9,8,7 yrs. plus they have influence from a mother figure who actually cares, they are in therapy, they have case managers on top of therapy, and my 11 yr old has ptsd from abuse. the only emotion he shows is with the 1 yr old. he raised that baby when I wasn't there and I have tried to explain half the anger from these children is because they raised babies their whole lives and when they were separated, they took THEIR babies away not their mother's. I am at a loss and coming up at the end of this case where final decisions are being made.
DCS now claims mom is doing well and will get the kids in the state but the GAL is claiming she will never let mom have them back and they are on their way to adoption. how do I get my GAL to agree with me before it is too late? I have gov references, I have my kids therapist, case managers, principals and teachers, even neighbors on my side. why can't I convince the people who need convincing? what can I do to help before it's too late to do anything and they are gone?
I even recently filed charges on another brother who was 18 then, now 20 yrs old who was raping my girl 8 now, 5 then, and they closed the case and said she was safe. I don't understand how that is okay since he was ordered away from the children 3 yrs ago for abusing them. he was arrested at 17 for child abuse and they wanted to charge him as an adult since he was 2 wks away from his 18 bday. less than a yr later he was back home because mom allowed it and raping her daughter. she knew and didn't stop anything. now I have all the abusers, every one of them even the ones I filed charges against, just walking around on the streets and all I want to do is safe my babies.
I understand nothing you say is legal, but at this point anything you give me will be helpful. I also respect you because I know how hard it is to do your job, just because of this case. I pray for you that you never ever take on one like this one! I respect you just for this help alone! thank you.

UncleCJ's picture

Thank you so much for volunteering your time to answer questions. Allow me to be brief.

My sister abandoned her infant son ten years ago with my parents.

Moved 1.5 hours north, away from her son.

Has not paid child support to them in 10 years.

has not paid for medical costs in ten years.

Cost my parents access to their own food-stamps by claiming my nephew on her own application.

Temporarily placed him in unsafe living conditions for 8 months when she did take him to live with her, at the age of 5 or 6.

Remained 1.5 hours north of her son while he was sick, and in the path of Hurricane Irma with expected landfall as a Category 3 or 4 hurricane.

I am contemplating filing for an injunction in an attempt to gain custody. Any insight or advice would be greatly appreciated.

ksboymom's picture

Hi!  I'm new here - really hoping for some insight and greatly appreciative your thoughts.  I have a 6 year old son who lives primarily with me.  My ex is in an on-again, off-again relationship with his fiancee.  Most recently they broke up on Wednesday and as of last night are back together.  This has been going on for a year.  She's great (and has a 3 year old son of her own that lives with them) but he's not the most responsible, adult role model.  Needless to say, it makes me hesitant for my son to be at their house, in that environment.  My son is scheduled to be with his dad this weekend and I wanted to touch base with his fiancee, mom to mom, before he goes.  What could I say to/ask her that would give me peace of mind, but not set off a firestorm if she shows him the messages?