What does "open telephonic access" mean?
DH and BM have joint custody of Skid, but DH is the custodial parent. The final settlement was reached within the past year after a long, stressful custody fight and an 11th hour settlement. There is more, but this will be long enough. Suffice it to say that DH is hardworking and responsible and BM is EXTREMELY irrational and manipulative. She is also extremely jealous of me, though that in itself is irrational. She cheated on DH and asked for a divorce long before I was in the picture.
All the physical visitation is spelled out really clearly.
In addition to the physical access, BM is to have "open telephonic access" with no interference.
DH didn't see a problem with this; after all, who wants to limit phone calls between a parent and child?
However (you knew there'd be one), BM is really abusing this and using the telephone to undermine Skid's adjustment. She has Skid convinced that this is just a temporary home, that she will sue us for custody at some point and that this is just a place Skid has to put up with. Skid is therefore making no effort to adjust.
Skid has a personal phone from us, but it has no texting. Skid has had trouble meeting responsibilities as it is and doesn't need the distractions right now, plus, BM pays no child support and we NEED, not want, to keep our costs down.
BM has given Skid a smart phone and texts daily. This wouldn't be a problem if BM weren't crazy. She is using texting as a means to keep Skid occupied with her when Skid would otherwise be engaging with the other members of the household. She is clearly using the texts to manipulate Skid's emotions, but we do not have proof because Skid is deleting all the texts.
And yes, we looked for them. We told Skid when Skid moved in that Skid had a "reasonable expectation of privacy" in this house, and that "reasonable" meant that as long as Skid was trustworthy and gave us no reason to worry, Skid would have privacy. If not, all bets were off. Skid has a really sketchy relationship with the truth (actually, Skid lies like a rug), has very negative attention-seeking behavior, and has demonstrated some other serious emotional issues and behavioral problems. (Yes, Skid is in therapy - but it is slow going and Skid is not opening up.)
We know from experience that BM asks Skid leading questions. BM has been emailing my husband with all sorts of horrible accusations about every member of our family except Skid (mostly me), saying Skid told her this, that, and the other really horrible and untrue thing. We think that BM is probably asking Skid really leading questions to kind of manufacture the answer she wants out of the responses. We also think Skid is gaming the system and embellishing events or just flat-out lying to BM for sympathy.
Skid was having trouble adjusting but was making progress, but since the texting has been truly, frighteningly disruptive. Not only telling lies, but telling outrageous lies about other members of the household. This behavior is escalating, and I'm truly afraid that Skid will do harm to one of the children or make horrible, life ruining accusations about one of us. The other night, Skid had a physical tantrum and began to beat poor DH will full strength.
DH, of course, did not do anything in return other than to stand in one place and, when he could, hold Skid's arms to prevent the blows from making contact. I was about thirty seconds away from calling the police when Skid ceased the physical abuse.
Skid is clearly very angry and wants to live with BM. Skid will never live with BM. Ever. Not because of spite or anger or what-have-you, but because we know beyond a shadow of a doubt that BM earns her living from illegal activity. We have a mountain of evidence.
BM does not know we have this evidence; there was a settlement, so the custody case never went to trial, but if we ever go back to court, it will be presented. Skid does not know about BM's illegal activity, nor do we think Skid should.
BM clearly bought Skid this phone so that she could be a disruptive influence. (How a person can hate her ex more than she loves her child is beyond me, but there you go.)
Must we continue to let Skid use this phone? Must we continue to let Skid text? Or has my DH met his legal obligations as long as we provide a number at which Skid can be called and no one interrupts Skid's private phone calls with BM?
Thanks for any advice.