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HELP QUICK! Need help with a response….

Biostep7777's picture

So, DH asked if kids could come over for a few hours on Christmas. HCBM plays games for a month and tonight states that they can come for 4 hours but she wants an overnight in exchange, she is constantly trying to take more time than give. She's being completely unreasonable but if we don't do as she demands we won't see the kids on Christmas. I need some help with a reply. Specifically how to play this out where we can show the courts how completely unreasonable she is and that she is NOT putting the kid's best interest first. 

I know we should stick to the court order. I ding need advice there. We only do this once a year. It's for the kids. They want to come over so we suck it up on the holidays. 

CastleJJ's picture

How does the CO outline holiday visitation? There has to be something in your CO about holidays?

I would respond: "BM, I appreciate you offering 4 hours of visitation so we can celebrate Christmas with the kids. Per state parenting time guidelines, make-up parenting time is scheduled in "like time" meaning that if you give me four hours, you are entitled to four hours of make-up time in return, not a full overnight. Please let me know when you would like to exercise your four hours of make-up time so I can work to accomodate. I look forward to seeing the kids at x time on Christmas."

If BM doesn't accept this, you need to think about how important it is to see skids for Christmas. Do you cave and give her the full overnight so you see the kids, potentially opening yourselves up for more games or do you stick to your guns, not give her the overnight, and possibly miss out on Christmas? Technically, without a CO addressing holiday visitation, you are at BM's mercy. 

Biostep7777's picture


CastleJJ's picture

I tried looking up "NC make-up parent time" or "NC make-up visitation" but couldn't find anything. I'm in MI and it clearly spells out in our state parenting time guidelines how make-up time works. 

Just know, if BM is entitled to Christmas this year, and she gives you 4 hours, the court will grant her "in kind" time meaning she will be granted 4 hours of Christmas next year as "make-up," even if you give her 4 hours on a random day. I would do some googling to see if you can find anything in NC that supports that argument for make-up time.

Biostep7777's picture

She had Christmas every year. She has never let them here for more than a couple hours on Christmas and last year she wouldn't let them here at all. They signed an agreement that stated she gets Christmas but that parents should be flexible. He was stupid for agreeing to that of course! So, totally his fault. But, of course she said she would be fair and of course she hasn't been. 

CastleJJ's picture

Per that CO, BM gets Christmas, period, end of story, so BM offering you any time on Christmas at all will be seen as "generous" and "flexible." Your BM doesn't know the meaning of the word "flexible," but that is all left to interpretation, so your DH's hands are kind of tied with this one. No court will find BM's actions to be "not in the best interests of the kids" because she is following the CO that she and DH signed and even giving DH a little time. She will be viewed as the "good one" in this scenario. 

I would decide how much it means to you guys to have those few hours or if it's just worth waiting until your next scheduled visitation to celebrate Christmas. You don't want to open a can of worms with your HCBM. 

Rumplestiltskin's picture

I agree. You say "it's for the kids", but is it? Why deal with BM more than you have to? Christmas can be celebrated whenever you want, and you won't be rushed and have "make-up" time and court BS hanging over your head, and God knows how much extra communication with BM. I seriously doubt it means that much to the kids. Christmas can be whenever you say it is. That battle was lost when DH signed the agreement.

ETA even if you "win" 4 hours on Christmas, without sacrificing an overnight, you still lose by adding to court drama and having to deal extra with BM. The kids may say they want to come but i doubt it will really affect them that much. 

Biostep7777's picture

Of course she will. She is always the good one. Withheld thd kids for months, won't let them come over two years in a row for Christmas so they could see their family even though he offered her that time back, withheld them on every holiday that fell in his time, refused to let them come to a huge family event because it was "her time" she has 15 contempt charges, overloads then in sports, withheld them on the 4th of July last year and this summer she had family visiting so we were told to be flexible so they kids could see family. All this and of course he will be the bad guy once again. 

I give up. This whole thing is a shit show. We can't do anything right. We are always the bad guys somehow and she always is the good guy even with all the crap she pulls. 

notsurehowtodeal's picture

I know this isn't what you want to hear, but do not do this. Celebrate Christmas whenever you next have the kids. You are not going to be showing the court anything because the court will not care about this one way or the other. Your DH agreed for BM to have the kids on Christmas, he is the one who is trying to make the change, not her. If anyone is going to look bad in this situation, it is him. He shouldn't have agreed to letting her have every Christmas if he wasn't going to abide by it.

Your skids are old enough to understand that it doesn't really matter on which day you celebrate Chrismtas, as long as you do it. Let this one go.

Biostep7777's picture

I get that. He had the kids for the 4th of July weekend and she has family visiting and we were told if would look good if he agreed to let her have them. If not he would look bad. Now it's the other way and he will still look bad? Like, are we just screwed no matter what because he's the dad? 

tog redux's picture

In my experience, the court does not read every communication, and BMs like this are very good at making themselves appear so reasonable in writing. 

Not every state has set guidelines for parenting plans, I know NY doesn't.  

There are no magic words here, either agree to BM's terms or don't take the time. So what if she gets "more".  If having them on that day is important then give her the overnight. Yes, it's unfair, but you guys opened that door by asking for time. Your attorney doesn't understand high conflict people, in my opinion. 

See the kids another day for Christmas and plan to never ask for a swap again. You can never win at this game with BM, so stop playing. 

Also - you guys thought she was ridiculous for asking for the 4th of July to see family, and you are doing the exact same thing- on a more major holiday, and one day in advance. She's going to appear gracious for giving you any time. If she did this to you and said it was "for the kids" we'd tell you to say no. 

Biostep7777's picture

She wanted the whole weekend on the 4th of July. We said she was ridiculous because in March we told her WE had family visiting that weekend which was our weekend and our family worked around our custody schedule. She completely disregarded our plans and said they should be with "their own family"  If we didn't already have family visiting and told her this 4 months in advance and she wanted a few hours on the 4th we would have given her the whole day. We would have made adjustments. Because that's what is best for the kids. She will never do that but she will look gracious for allowing 4 hours only if she gets 24 hours using her children as a bargaining chip to get more time? 

DH asked her about Christmas on November 24th. Not the day before. She initially said yes we can work something out then it was weeks of her games. I get it. We shouldn't have asked. But we did. Then on December 23rd she said only if she gets an entire 24 hours and she will allow them 4 hours here. 

but of course she will look gracious and not at all unreasonable. I literally give up. 

tog redux's picture

It's still the same thing. You are still asking her to give up holiday time. It's easy to think that every thing you do is fine and everything she does is high conflict, but to the court, you are both going to appear unreasonable. 

This is why you don't ask for a swap. Or if it's that important to you then just give BM what she wants. But you aren't going to make BM be your definition of "reasonable" by fighting over who gets "more". 

Biostep7777's picture

Then if we didn't ask then she would have said "he didn't even want to see his own children on Christmas. Only his step children" 

like I this point it feeks like no matter what we do we are wrong. She's the gracious one and we are unreasonable. 

tog redux's picture

She doesn't have to give up Christmas just like you didn't have to give up the 4th.   My DH did all of this back and forth with BM and the court concluded they were both unreasonable and exactly alike. The only way to win is to not play the game. She will ALWAYS win these kinds of battles, she's a skilled manipulator. So give her the 24 hours and next time don't ask her to swap under any circumstances. Who cares if she gets 20 more hours. 

Also, she LOVES all the attention and outrage this generates. 

Rumplestiltskin's picture

"Also, she LOVES all the attention and outrage this generates."

Yep. Don't gove BM any more attention. 

tog redux's picture

You guys should give up and drop this custody suit. She thrives on the conflict and it will destroy you. 

tog redux's picture

Sorry for the multiple entries, I was on my phone and confused about what I had already replied to.

OP - I know how hard this is - dropping the rope in Family Court was what kept my marriage together.  It's crazy-making.

CastleJJ's picture

I agree with everyone here. I know how incredibly difficult it is to follow the CO to a tee, all while BM does whatever she wants and always gets away with it. I know what it's like to watch BM abuse DH and you and the system and she constantly comes out smelling like a rose. It absolutely sucks, but this is a fight you will never win, even after the kids turn 18. 

Your HCBM, much like mine, is a pro at manipulation and is very crafty in her wording. She will never be held accountable by the courts, and you will spend years of your life saying "it's not fair! She did x, y, and z." I only know because I am speaking from experience. The quicker you and DH learn to drop rope and accept what is, the quicker you will find peace. DH and I were abused almost daily by BM for 7 years before DH said "enough" and took her to court. We spent a year in court and $30k for DH to gain nothing and be told by the judge to "take your visitation, pay your CS, and let the rest go because a kid needs their Mother." Even with every ounce of proof we had, it changed nothing. So DH and I did just that. We take our visitation only as ordered in the CO, talk to SS twice per week on the phone as ordered in the CO, pay our CS, and only communicate with BM when absolutely necessary. Since BM hasn't gotten the conflict she wants, she has also stopped trying for the most part. DH and I also got into counseling to learn to deal with the PTSD like symptoms we faced after dealing with BM for years. Things are a lot better now, though BM still tries to create conflict and play games occasionally. You need to work to find peace, maintain your sanity, and accept this terrible situation for what it is. 

tog redux's picture

Yep, this was our experience too.  Also, family court isn't really like other courts - they don't look at "evidence" and convict people of crimes. They won't pore over every email and every interaction to see who is the more reasonable one.  There is no jury that has to decide "reasonable doubt". There is one judge who decides and has his/her biases. They get tired of high conflict custody cases and they assume that both parties are at fault, especially if there a ton of arguing back and forth. And the "mothers are the most important parent" bias is still strong.

BMs like this thrive in this setting. They have relentless energy for combat and conflict, in fact, it gives them energy, where it wears down normal people. They have no qualms about emotionally abusing their kids to get them to " take their side", and they are willing to do whatever it takes to get what they want. They view being taken to court as a life/death struggle that requires them to fight ruthlessly.  And the process of court makes it worse - it takes month or years to make decisions. It follows stupid procedural stuff that high conflict people can exploit.  And they have almost zero understanding of how high-conflict people operate.

The only way to win is to not play the game. Follow the CO, pay the CS and minimize contact with BM.  I hope OP and her DH will drop the rope and just get on with life as best they can. As I look back, there is so much I wish we had done differently, and one is not fighting with BM over stupid things like her wanting an overnight for 4 hours of time.

Biostep7777's picture

I get it and I totally agree. For the most part this is what we have done. We have trial being scheduled in a few weeks. To waste all that time and money to stop now would be horrible. We also NEED child support adjusted. We need this court order and we need a PC which the judge did say she would be granting one in the final hearing. These kids need therapy. This will also be granted as she granted this in the temp hearing but mom fired the therapists so that is one of her contempts. 
I do hear what everyone is saying about Christmas. Thank you for the reminder. Sometimes you get swept up in the chaos and forget to get back on track but DH and I have accept that we won't see them again on Christmas and luckily my ex and I coparent great together so he's letting my kids come the next day to open gifts with their step siblings. I get fed up that we always are put in this position but you are right. We will never win at her games. 

For those of you who have SO that have walked away, how do they cope?? I just do not see my husband ever being ok with not being involved in his kid's lives of minimally involved. I think that would be way worse for him. 

CastleJJ's picture

You can drop rope without completely giving up on the kids. You can obtain academic, sports, and medical information directly from the source (i.e. school, teachers, doctors, coaches, leagues, etc.) without having to communicate with BM. You can still attend their sporting events and school functions, but just show up, don't try to coordinate your appearance with BM. Just drop in and out on your own. You don't inform skids of every major happening in your life and you don't tell BM anything, like an autism diagnosis or major purchases, nice vacations, etc. You don't let BM know anything that she can use against you or use to abuse you. You take your visitation as it is court ordered, not requesting any changes ever, understanding that you may not have the skids when you want them, for holidays or important family milestones. If BM tries to take time away or ruin it, figure out if it is worth the fight or not and act accordingly, either fighting to enforce your time or just giving it up. You ignore almost all communication from BM and use the BIFF method only if a communication does require a response. You make contact with skids on your own, via phone, social media, etc. You just do what you can do to find peace and minimize your involvement with BM. You set your boundaries in stone and do not waiver. You don't sweat the small stuff and you learn to accept that BM will do whatever BM wants, regardless of what the CO says, and even if it is wrong or not in "the best interests of the kids." You just learn to let it all go as long as the kids aren't hurt, sick, or dying. Doing this doesn't make DH a deadbeat or mean DH is "giving up on skids," it just means he is functioning within his limitations while trying to maintain boundaries, sanity, and peace. 

tog redux's picture

What Castle said above. Dropping the rope is not walking away from the kids, not at all. It's walking away from an unwinnable battle in court with BM.

He could drop his court petition and stay with the temporary order, and just finish paying out the amount of CS he has now.

The problem is, I can almost guarantee you that you are NOT close to the finish line. Family court drags on forever. And she can keep filing other motions to delay it.  You two should decide now how long you will continue if she manages to delay (or the court can delay too - attorney is sick, adjourn for 2 months, etc).

CastleJJ's picture

THIS. Lawyers and judges are the only winners in family court. Our BM didn't like one stipulation that was added, which was that DH never had to exercise out of state visitation in BM's state. BM repetitioned to add the stipulation 3 times and on the 3rd time, the judge completely denied it and barred her from repetitioning on that issue. We could have had all of court wrapped up in 3 months because we were only asking for more than 4 weeks of summer visitation, but it took close to a year due to the court process and BM delaying/arguing everything. And even after that year long fight, we gained nothing and wasted all that time and money. During our court battle, BM started adding new demands and making abuse allegations to derail court proceedings and make the actual issues blurry. Our court battle would have been longer if DH and I didn't just say "enough" and settle. We decided to settle because the judge told us to take our visitation, pay CS, and be done. The judge told us if our case went to trial, we would lose so don't spend the time and money. At the end of the day, we were financially, emotionally and mentally done and we just took the new CO, even if it wasn't exactly what we wanted, and we stopped fighting. A HCBM will delay court proceedings as long as possible, especially if a child support reduction is on the table. It could be years before you reach a resolution and by then, skids will be aged out and all of this would be for nothing. 

Biostep7777's picture

Yeah I agree however, we need an actual court order to be able to do this. We have a temporary one but we need this to be able to move on the way we need to. We also need child support adjusted. He is paying 3x more than he should because he still paying as if she still has no income but she makes 6 figures. We also will be getting a PC granted which the judge did say she would be doing this. So yes, we are at the final stretch but can't back out just yet. 

tog redux's picture

I hope you are the final stretch, but court has a way of delaying and never getting finished. And even once it is finished? BM can turn around and file another motion to change things.

Rags's picture

"We will happily take the 4 hours with the kids and thank you for your magnanimous gesture.  However, we will not give you an overnight for only 4 hours with the kids.  Please let us know what time to pick them up for our 4 hours.  If you do not agree with our requirements, you will have to provide for their care and oversight for that time.  Happy Holidays.  Buh-bye."

Biostep7777's picture

Just sitting here on Christmas morning enjoying the silence and my coffee waiting for the teens to wake up. DH ended up just telling her nevermind about Christmas. He will just pick up kids the next day. 

Sure enough she messages back that she's sad that he doesn't want to see his kids on Christmas, Christmas is important to her and the kids and she wants the kids to see him and she said "I don't  normally make the kids go there in my time unless they ask or without their consent (what??) but because it is Christmas I talked them into it. I told them it would be nice to see your dad.  you can pick them up at 10am and I will keep them overnight next weekend. They should see you on Christmas and be able to open their gifts. We can move on now" 


what the actual HELL is this crazy lunatic even talking about? She tries to get overnights all.the.time!! What is that??? 

He messaged back "I will not give up an overnight for a few hours. If you allow them to come over to open gifts great, if not I will pick them up on the 26th as per the court order" She isn't going to allow them to come at this point because he won't give up his overnight so at this point he shut off OFW and we will just get them tomorrow. 

NEVER AGAIN. I promise. Lol 

Biostep7777's picture

No way! She does zero transportation. She refuses to do any drop off of pick ups. So, now she's going to say she told DH to pick them up and he never showed up. This is a nightmare. She is so manipulative. No matter what we do she makes him look bad and her look good. I just can't understand this. How is this best for the kids??????

she won't look at his message so she's going to say she told him to pick them up and he didn't show up and didn't see his message. How does she manage to manipulate everything?  

CastleJJ's picture

Ignore it. DH won't look like the bad guy because the courts can pull up OFW and see that he sent the message declining the time. Don't worry about how BM tries to spin this. Good job on DH for standing his ground. 

Winterglow's picture

She can't see the message and then deny she saw it because OFW notes reads and time stamps them.

tog redux's picture

She's a master manipulator. You can never win, so do what's best for you. When you see the boys tomorrow, just be honest - and never ask BM for a change again, so you don't open the door to this crap. My DH started even refusing extra time BM offered because he knew it came at a price. 

Biostep7777's picture

So I have to tell y'all the update which is pretty hilarious. 

So, she did exactly what I knew she would do. At about 9:30am on Christmas morning DH texted his kids and said "morning and merry Christmas!! I'll FaceTime later tonight and pick you up tomorrow at 10am! Can't wait to see you in the morning" they immediately text back "ok dad. Merry Christmas. See you in the morning" 

We shut off OFW notifications for the rest of the day and had a great day! 

The next day he turns OFW back on. She had sent a message to him at 11:30am on Christmas morning saying "Well I guess you are not coming to pick up the kids. They have been ready to go" 

Interesting. They KNEW DH was coming the next day. How were they all ready to go?? She is SUCH A LIAR! She didn't know he already texted them and just lied to try and make him look like he just didn't bother to pick them up. What in the world is wrong with this woman!!??  Lol!!!! She is literally an idiot.