It's Time To Get Full Custody.

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Old 09-26-2011, 12:39 AM
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It's time to get full custody.

Hi, everyone! This is my first time in here, but I've been posting in the drugstore forums for quite some time now. I'm just to the point where I can no longer handle all of this parenting stuff, listening to my mom and only my mom. Ick...sometimes, it's worse talking to her about it than the relief I get from getting the words out!!!

My ex husband is an alcoholic...admittedly so on certain occasions of dispair and drunkeness. My almost 10 year old son knows now that his daddy has a disease called alcoholism. I, myself, am a sober alcoholic, celebrating every day of 5 years since my FINAL drink. And, so I do empathize. I know how hard it is to face and go through recovery. But, I can't keep allowing him to do my son dirty.

This weekend, he made plans with me to meet up after a birthday party I was taking my son to, and pick him up. I called after the party and his mom said he was passed out. I asked, "Was he just really tired or is it the reason you and I know so well?" She said, "Yes, we know the reason, very well."

So, it's time...I've given him chances, but enough is enough. My son's failing 4th grade, he's depressed, angry, doesn't eat well anymore, and darn it, I know he has to be feeling really bad that HE doesn't have a great dad like his friends do. I know I have been through many times of self pity where I said to myself, "It's just not FAIR that I have to raise a child on my own and his dad is out partying all the time." But, I'm old enough to be able to stop myself and remember that some people are out there saying, "It's just not FAIR that I can't have any kids" and similar things. He can't think that way...he just knows he doesn't have a dad he can turn to and rely on...and he knows his dad is killing himself, due to a heart condition brought on by too much binging.

OK, so I know this is long, but I am curious, can I request a new judge to hear the custody case? The judge we've had is very much biased in the man's favor. So far, he hasn't even given me a fair chance to talk and I hear that most women walk away from his courtroom feeling that way. And, do I stand a chance of getting custody? Do I lack proof, making it a waste of breath to try? Oh, and I should mention that his 2nd ex-wife got awarded full custody until he could prove he was able to better care for a child, which he's not been able to do in the 1 1/2 years since she took him to court.

Thanks for any help you have to offer. I'm so distraught. This is keeping me up all night every night and throughout the day, all I seem to do is let it eat away at me.
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  #2  
Old 09-26-2011, 12:49 AM

RE: It's time to get full custody.

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That's a tough question and probably only a lawyer can answer it...I'm in a similar situation. If possible try to get a referral for a lawyer from someone who has used him/her...some lawyers just tell you what you want to take your money and they don't care if they can really effectively help you. But only the lawyers will be able to look at your case objectively and see if you have evidence beyond emotion and can weigh that against what they know about the judge and can help you navigate whether or not you can get another judge. I know this sucks majorly and I'm so sorry!
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Old 09-26-2011, 12:58 AM

RE: It's time to get full custody.

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You have to have a lawyer for child custody, seriously not something you wanna do yourself. If he's already lost custody of one child, it is unlikely they would decide against you. A good thing would be if you and the first wife could see eye to eye enough for her to share any evidence that she used in that case. Also you'll want to go pull his criminal history at the court house. Such things are a matter of public record. I've come to realize over the years that the majority of custody lawyers are there to file the right paperwork, and to make the judge take you seriously. Investigation usually falls to you. Gather any evidence of alcoholism, DUI, past behavior that cost him the first child. Document everything, and make copies of everything, since even lawyers misplace things. My last one was a moron who couldn't remember anything, and I paid him a ton.
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Old 09-26-2011, 01:48 AM

RE: It's time to get full custody.

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And get your son some counseling if you haven't already. My dad was an alcoholic but my parents never split and I never got help. It took a long time to realize I was just a kid and it wasn't really all my fault (as my dad would say when mom wasn't around).

He needs to understand these aren't his problems. Is there another positive male around? If not Big Brothers is amazing.

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Old 09-26-2011, 03:51 AM

RE: It's time to get full custody.

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In Virginia, the court usually appoints a GAL, Guardian Ad Litem,which is essentially an advocate/attorney for the child. The child is represented by the GAL. They investigate the parents, interview the child and family members as well as visit the school, etc. That's a simplistic explanation, but I'm not an attorney. I just know about it because my DH just went through it with his ex.

We welcomed the GAL, as she was able to bring forth some of the issues we had with the ex. Your child will surely benefit from such representation.

If you have no money, ask for a state appointed attorney for you.

Good luck and keep your chin up. Also, you got some great advice in the previous posts.
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Old 09-26-2011, 05:28 AM

RE: It's time to get full custody.

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I agree with PP's about needing evaluation of the case by a reputable and effective attorney. You need a professional advocate in your corner. Also about asking for a GAL, if your state has them and there is not one appointed yet.

I also would strongly recommend getting your son in some therapy, or doing some kind of family therapy for you and your son together. This would give him a place to sort out his feelings about his father without being caught in the middle between the two of you. The therapist can also give you ideas about how to support your son in the process, how to maintain boundaries that keep him safe, and how to deal with your own frustration. A bonus is the possibility that the therapist may also be an advocate for you in the custody process, although I would advise not to make that your goal. As a retired child therapist, I can tell you that therapists don't like being drawn into custody disputes - especially when told at the beginning "we are in a custody battle, and we need your help."

There are, however, therapists who are hired by the court to make custody evaluations. The goal here is for the therapist to be neutral - talk to the child, both parents, any other people who have something to contribute (grandparents, etc.) and write a report with recommendations for what is in the best interest of the child. Your attorney can help to facilitate such an evaluation. But this therapist is NOT the one to work with your child on a continuing basis - that would be separate from the evaluation.

I would also like to add affirmation for YOU in this picture. Congratulations on five years of being sober, and for each day that you keep going! Your son may not be able to say it, but you are surely his ROCK of security and stability in a stormy sea.
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Old 10-12-2011, 09:10 PM

RE: It's time to get full custody.

My 13 year old son is MOOOODY!!!!
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Thank you all so much! I don't want you to think I'm not reading and working towards all of these things. Actually, I've taken each idea posted and put them in a list that I have saved on my computer...it's kind of my new to-do list in all of this custody stuff. It's really so daunting. My son doesn't want me to do this...he wants things just left alone. But, there will come a time when I can't make excuses to the ex as to why Aidan should stay home. So far, he's called on weekends when Aidan has several things already planned, birthday parties, boy scouts, ect.

I have had him in counseling as well as he and I going to a counselor for family counseling. But, Aidan feels like he's put on the spot and just gets quiet or talks about pokemon. I've had the school counselor talk with him too and last year, his teacher was our neighbor, so he was really comfortable with her...used her to talk about a lot of things too.

I like the idea of a GAL. If they would talk to my ex's mother, she'd be able to enlighten them a lot...possibly, but she goes back and forth on how willing she is to offer info. So does the other ex wife. She's only my "friend" when she wants something. I've done EVERYTHING I can to get Aidan to be able to see his baby brother, but she's not been receptive so far...so, as for her helping me, I can't count on that.

And, thank you so much, BlueMoon! I wasn't wanting to elicit compliments on the sobriety or anything, but it IS something that makes me so very happy. It was, by far, the largest battle I've ever been through (and I've been through some doozies!), and getting to look back at the end of each day and know it's been another good day...it's all so perfect! I couldn't face seeing my son have to have 2 parents doing the same thing and letting him down...so, when I mustered up the courage to get help, I had to take it very seriously. Quit my job, joined every AA group I could and lived on that stuff while I was in the first year. I'd do just about anything to see my ex do the same.
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  #8  
Old 10-12-2011, 10:00 PM

RE: It's time to get full custody.

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OP- I'm not sure where you live in WV, but you can always call any local law school and ask if they have free clinics. We do a lot of clinic work at my law school. It's all upper level law student supervised by professors who are licensed attorneys. Most of the time we do better work than regular attorneys because we have something to prove!

Also, I found the following information from an attorney page:

The determination of child custody begins with the filing of a motion at your local county family law courthouse.

At some point, the county assigns a West Virginia custody evaluator to meet with all the parties involved; including the school, doctors, etc.

The county will conduct an evaluation to determine which of you is the best parent for the children.

The process begins with an evaluation performed by an assigned evaluator.

Even better, you'll probably be subjected to a psychological profile and at the end of the process, the custody evaluator will write and submit their report to family court.

The completed evaluation report will be sent to you.

Like many people you probably think custody is determined by the judge, well the fact is custody is determined by the evaluator, not the judge.

The judge simply reads the evaluators report and rubber stamps it, because the judge knows almost nothing about you, your spouse, your children, or your family situation.

The evaluator, having conducted extensive research, then issuing a report, knows there's no way the judge is going to overrule theie recommendation.

In a highly contested dispute, a judge will order the guardian ad litem to protect the children's interests during the custody evaluation.

This person doesn't decide on custody, they only act as a advocate for the children to make sure their interests are protected while you and your spouse argue about custody.

Now, Guardians can be lawyers or social workers they just need to be approved by the court and there are private guardians along with public ones employed by your local West Virginia county.

A private guardian ad litem will charge from $50 per hour to upwards of $400, as opposed to a public guardian who generally charge much less..

It is common for each spouse to share the cost of the guardian.

If the cost of a guardian ad litem is an issue, typically one is provided free of change.


The info is from an attorney who represents men in divorce and custody hearings, so it's a good reference for what you could be up against.
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Old 10-12-2011, 10:20 PM

RE: It's time to get full custody.

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It must be different in WV here in pa the evaluater is paid forby the parents and its exspensive. Then the judge dosent even bother to read it. It took 10 years for a judge to finally nail him on child abuse and stop all his rights to the child. Then in a few months a new judge was sworn in and he gave visitation back still not reading any of the
past records. Full custody here means you are the primary custodial parent. The other parent has temporary custody while haveing the child for visits.
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Old 10-26-2011, 02:29 AM

RE: It's time to get full custody.

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Quote:
Originally Posted by conniel18848
It must be different in WV here in pa the evaluater is paid forby the parents and its exspensive. Then the judge dosent even bother to read it. It took 10 years for a judge to finally nail him on child abuse and stop all his rights to the child. Then in a few months a new judge was sworn in and he gave visitation back still not reading any of the
past records. Full custody here means you are the primary custodial parent. The other parent has temporary custody while haveing the child for visits.
I had something similar happen four years ago, my daughter was kidnapped by her fathers parents, for lack of a better term.


The courts jerked me around for years and still are. It's quite frustrating.
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  #11  
Old 10-26-2011, 04:20 AM

RE: It's time to get full custody.

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Although CMLaw is correct about how the law READS in WV, it is not always followed. My courtroom was "the good ole boy" courtroom in WV. My daughter and I were physically and emotionally abused by her father. We had court records from another state to prove this. He had his record expunged though. When the GAL was appointed, he got to speak to the GAL first and give his side of the story. The GAL never listened to a word we said and fought as if he were the attorney for her father. We found out later that the GAL knew my ex's parents. We were fortunate to have a court ordered psychologist that saw through him and if it weren't for her who knows what the outcome would be. When we went to court she wasn't subpoenaed to be there and the GAL knew of her findings but still fought in his favor. My attorney wasn't one of the boys, so the judge ignored everything he said and refused to call the psychologist even though she was to be available by phone. It took 8 hearings to finally get full custody but we went through so much unnecessary proceedings and rulings that didn't follow WV law to get there. My ex still doesn't follow the court order and does what he wants while still screwing with my daughters head. The court won't do a thing. The only good thing in my case is that the judge that did all of this has now moved to another county as a circuit court judge. I hear his replacement has been fair so far. I'm sure I will be finding out in the near future. Good luck and I am proud of you for your sobriety and seeking a better life for your son.
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Old 10-26-2011, 05:25 AM

RE: It's time to get full custody.

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My heart goes out to you...we are experiencing a similar situation with my 10 yr. old grandson. He is failing school, as well as other issues. His father is not an alcoholic, but is not Father of the Year, for sure! He has been gone for over a year to Afghanistan (not military...just greedy...in civilian contract job). I was hoping that he would have changed a bit while being away for so long. Within less than 24 hrs., the drama has begun all over again.

We are in a small town-type area, & the judges have known his family for years...so they aren't much help.

Keep up the good efforts, & the concern for your son. I am sure he knows he has at least one parent with his best interests top priority. May
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Old 10-26-2011, 05:44 AM

RE: It's time to get full custody.

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Depending on your X-husbands disposition- if he is not abusive physically then just do not abide by the child custody agreement. Most alcoholics do not have the desire to put enough effort into it anyways. In our state if you are not abiding by the agreement the police cannot remove the child, they can only make a report for the other parent. Call your local police department to verify this. Then your x-husband would have to file for a motion, and that takes time and money. Hopefully you have been documenting everything as well. Has he had DUI`s? How many? There are alot of things you can do, and should be doing. If he is a functioning alcoholic then you will need a GAL. In our state both are required to pay for this, along with your lawyer and the GAL you are looking at a minimum of 5,000.00. Thats why if you can simply avoid him it may be better if its the case where he lives out of the home. But check with your local police station, and your states statutes. You also did not state if he is reasonable or not.

Maybe you can simply tell him that there is no more visitation until he gets sober unless you are present. Then maybe you can all have dinner together at your home a couple nights a week. I know that sounds far fetched, but since you are a recovering addict then you know how difficult it is.. Try and reason with him, simply offer a couple choices where you are in control and where he see`s that you are only looking out for your childs best interest. It may also help your son if you can bridge a good rapport with his dad... Congrats on your 5 years! Hopefully you find some solutions!
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Old 10-26-2011, 06:20 AM

RE: It's time to get full custody.

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Just a simple recommendation if you aren't already, which is get yourself a notebook, use your cellphone, use a piece of scrap paper in your purse - and document everything! If he misses a visit because he's passed out jot it down with the date & time & reason why. How often he may (may not) call your child - document it. It's much easier for you to walk in to court with documentation and dates/times that show he's unfit on top of the drinking. I have friends who have gone to court and have very little to ever give an attorney and this is always the recommendation - document it all!
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Old 10-26-2011, 07:04 AM

RE: It's time to get full custody.

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We have very embittered feelings towards Va courts (but ,most likely, it happens everywhere). We helped my daughter in a custody battle with her ex BF in Va. It drug out for 2 yrs and over $60,000 OOP. They appointed a GAL who was supposed to have child's best interest. We took tape recordings to her of him making threats to "cut" me, threats that we would never see the child again,that he had a gun under his back seat, yelling at the child over the phone who was then 2 yo and under, and much more. Started when she was 9 mo old. He abused my daughter before the child. He hit my daughter doing an exchange in the police dept while he was holding the child. The GAL told our lawyer if he was found guilty she would finally recommend supervised visitation. He was found guilty,sentenced to 2 weeks, she renegged,he appealed, and was given a weekend to which he showed up 1/2 a day late.My daughter was given full custody, but we were fighting for supervised visits as well. The GAL that was appointed was a GAL out of the same office that his attorney worked as a GAL. CPS (another crooked govt entity,) even had him show up for an exchange with the baby covered in vomit, mid winter, and she had to get donated clothes to change her before we got her. We later let them hear tape of him saying a 45 min before he arrived that she threw up, but he wasnt putting his good clothes on her. CHild was under care of a child psychologist due to extreme emotional behavior after seeing him...pulling out her own hair, throwing herself in the floor screaming and more. Once this psychologist met us when we were almost home from out 5 hr every other week trip to Va to bring the child all the way to him for visits, and she seen bruises on inner thigh, screaming during diaper change saying dont touch it, trying to ram herself into a wall of windows, and uncontrollable. She had evidence of abuse, and attempted to contact judge, told GAL, and more. Nothing was done. We were forced to bring her the 5 hr trip, or fear losing custody. Finally in the end, his layer dropped out ( we believe the grandfather's support ended), and the GAL FINALLY recommended he drive half way. We had told her all along if he had to put out effort he wouldnt do it. It was a game of torture by him. When he was told this in court, he started yelling he wasnt doing it "she wasnt worth it"!! several times. Thank God, we have not seen or heard from him in 3 yrs. I believe the courts deliberatly drag these things out.More money for the lawyers. Oh, and my daughter also got a bill for GAL for several thousands. Forgot to mention, one night CPS followed us out of the parking lot when we didnt have the baby with her lights out, till she realized we were just turning around. Another trip, she arrived in another county to try and set us up with father after an exchange. Watching us from somewhere.Made a big deal because we went inside the police station after exchange to change her diaper, and be sure of no bruises before our 5 hr trip home.

The only people we actually got help from was the police dept. Which started when he hit her with the child. Another episode when we got baby, and her butt was covered with welts, and had on tape he spanked her because she drew on her bed at 2 yo. While still in police station, we couldnt decide to take her to ER, or call cop in for documentation first. Assuming hospital would be best, later found out wrong. We should have called in officer first. Nothing was done again.

My best advice is as someone said...document everything!!. Next time he has child, have child call you if he gets drunk. Then immediately call the police so child can be removed and incident documented. I know its hard, but use patience, and get a few documented incidents to take to court. Arrange for witnesses to be present during exchanges if at all possible.So if he doesnt show you have some proof. Use email when possible for arrangments and print these off.BY the way, we live in WV.
good luck
Tammy
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