I am starting divorce process. We have been married for 6
years. When I married her she had four children, already.
We had a fifth child. When we married/met (short
engagement) her oldest son was seven and was a ward of the
court. She had just gotten back custody of her four year
old daughter and three year old son. She had just had a
baby girl when I met her. I even saw the baby girl in the
hospital. She was pregnant with my son two months later.
The youngest daughter has a different father than the older
The first three children were taken from her and their
biological father after abuse and neglect was found to be
happening. The biological father is no longer around and
there is little chance that he ever will be. When I met
her, I was under the impression that she had not done any of
the acts that the children were taken for and that the state
was just abusing her because (insert any large number of
excuses here). I later found that she was severely
neglectful and abusive. The state did study myself when I
entered the picture and found me to not be a risk. She was
never able to gain custody of her eldest son due to his
issues that developed during his extreme abuse that he
endured growing up. When I met her she was participating in
parenting classes and made me believe that they were because
they were ordered in the past but continued because she
liked them. Needless to say, she knew all the right ways to
parent and so I tended to believe that she had not done the
things that were being said that she had done.
I began helping her straighten out her life. I cleaned the
severely dirty home up and started cooking healthy meals for
the kids. I moved them into better living environment. For
the next three years I did most of the parenting. We then
started to get a divorce and she made a false abuse charge
against me that I had harmed my youngest son. It was found
to be false and later she asked me to try our marriage
again. During the next three years she became more
controling of the kids' affairs but I spent the majority of
the time with them while she worked many hours and I was
going to school. Just as I was graduating from school she
then served me with a protection order claiming that I was
harming my step-children. That order was dropped by her
after the police investigated and were prepared to state
that there was no abuse. We stopped the divorce process
that I again started in order to hopefully get an agreement
on custody, due to the fact that I refuse to continue living
in a situation were this seems to be a common threat.
I was asking her to allow me to have a week on - week off
custody agreement for all of the kids because they have
known me as daddy for as long as they have known how to say
daddy pretty much. She fought this because she did not want
my step-kids to be in any of the court papers and that she
would never keep them away from me anyway. Things have
gotten to be bad between us and she has the kids either
believing that I have done something wrong or just telling
them that they are not allowed to see me. She claims that
she hasn't, but there was a sudden change in their behavior
The youngest girl does hve her biological dad in her life
and there is a custody agreement that is in place where he
has every other weekend and some evenings with her. She is
very happy with two fathers and her biological father loves
her dearly, even though he has limited skills as a parent.
I would not have any issue with keeping his arrangment in
place, especially since it has to be that way. But I also
believe that he is very important to her life.
Their mother has not done any major physical violence since
I have been in the picture. She has a long history of
mental instability though. She has used mental games to
manipulate the children in the past and has a history of
lying to judges. I have no doubt that she is lying to the
kids now in order to convince them to say they do not want
to be around me. Two weeks ago, they couldn't seem to get
enough time with me and this week they hardly can look at me
when I come around.
I don't know what to do. Can I force visitation while
waiting to go to court. Can I get some sort of child
welfare worker to intervene in their mental abuse. I am
going to try to get custody of the kids, but with
step-children I am thinking that I may be asking for the
impossible considering that I can't prove severe abuse.
Really, the only abuse is mild neglect and mental abuse.
She does have a history of doing things like stealing. Once
before I met her and once while we were seperated. The time
that she stole someones purse while we were seperated she
went through some program to have it not put on her record.
I have some of her mental evaluations from eight years ago
that say how dangerous she potentially may be to the kids in
stressful situations, but will a judge care about something
so old. Can I get someone to evaluate her knowing all of
this past information. If she went to a counselor without
them knowing the past she would most likely be able to put
on a very good face. She told me that she is getting
treatment for her problems of lying and abuse and neglect
issues but I don't think that this is true. I love all of
my kids dearly; I would hate for them to loss me. The court
records told of slim chances of them growing up successfully
and I gave them the structure in their lives to prove that
to not be true. I don't think that their mom can continue
this for them. Even if I only have them for every other
week, I believe that they will have a much happier and
Thanks for writing.
I know you spent a great deal of time writing that out, and I can sense how difficult this is for you.
That said, I'm going to give a pretty short response and guide you to three resources that you should start reading and reviewing in every spare minute you have. They will answer the tons of questions that I'm sure you have.
Yes, you should get some temporary orders on seeing the kids, but those temporary things have a way of becoming permanent eventually in family law. I have no idea of your financial resources. However, in your situation, a thorough custody evaluation is your best shot. You want psychological evaluations done as part of that. You're going to need an attorney-- an aggressive one for your situation. I would suggest that you also hire an experienced investigator who has spent a good deal of time in child custody cases, to start putting together the mother's background.
Resource #1 that I recommend is a website called BPD Central
. It sounds like your ex displays many of the symptoms of a personality disorder. Educate yourself about that.
Resource #2 is the most important book you'll purchase during your child custody proceedings: Win Your Child Custody War
by Hardwick. I have a link to it on my Recommended Books
page. You can pick up a copy for $70, and it will help you understand how to tackle the huge challenge in front of you. Some things in family law are extremely important, and some are not. It's critical that you understand each of those areas.
Resource #3 is a book that will help you take proactive steps against the mother's attempts to turn the kids against you. It's excellent and will help you understand what conflicts are being instilled within the kids, along with what you should be doing to help them-- which, of course, helps your relationship with them. Divorce Poison
by Warshak is in my Recommended Books
Finally, start carrying around a microcassette recorder whenever you're going to be near your ex. If trouble starts, whip out the recorder and start recording. It'll either immediately diffuse the situation or you'll capture the exact conversation that transpires.
You have a very long road ahead of you, one that may take a couple years before you really start to see things start to improve for yourself and your kids. If you do it half-assed, you will likely fail. This is one of those things where we wonder at night why we were chosen for such a difficult path, but during the day we have no choice but to make every effort to our best ability.
I've given you very important advice on how to educate yourself about this process. I'm happy to be here for further guidance and any words of strength I can provide. But you owe it to yourself to commit yourself to this, and it sounds like there is no one else in the world besides you who can give these kids a shot at not becoming messed up adults.