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Stepdad wonders what to do during 6 months of biodad having one-day-per-week time with toddler

Your Question:
Thanks Eric for your response and advice concerning father's drug/alcohol use and illegal residency status. We went to court this last Wednesday and gave in a bit more to the father. Once at the courthouse, our lawyer went back and forth between our room and the father's room with his court appointed lawyer(dumb as a rock I should add). We thought we would be appearing before a judge. ???

The father pushed for Saturdays and Sundays but after a few trips back and forth from our lawyer we finally agreed to an extra 5 hours every other Sunday. We agreed to this only because our lawyer told us that if we did not that the father would just go back to mediation to request more time then and likely get it. We would then in turn spend more money on our lawyer. So until he refiles with the court for another mediation (6 months from now) he is still limited to visitation on Sundays for a few hours. If and when that happens what is the best course of action for us? Should we spend the $2000 on a private mediator? Is a custody evaluator the same as a mediator or a private mediator? Should be take our chances with a judge? Would there be a huge sympathy factor for the father who comes to court in a wheel chair and currently still isn't strong enough to even walk (let alone take care of a 19 month old child)? He is too weak to do drugs or alchol right now so would a judge view him as trying to start fresh and clean up his act? Its only a matter of time before he goes back to that lifestyle. We went to the child support office and filed the paperwork for child support but the father hasn't been physically able to work since his car accident and probably wont work for 1-2 years. Could we still expect any child support? One thing I forgot to mention in my last email... the illegal family (father, grandparents) have threatened before to kidnap the child while having visitation and flee to Mexico never to be seen again. Is this reason enough for my wife and I to move to a new undisclosed location in the same state for a few years? What would be possible or likely consequences? Could this allow the father to obtain even more visitation if we were found and ordered to go back to court? Is this new visitation agreement now a court order? Both parties and lawyers signed the agreement. What should we do for the next 6 months while this agreement is in effect in order to gain full custody or something very close!

I know its a lot of questions. I'm just trying to take advantage of having an avenue that will finally give us some straight answeres. Thank you so much for your time in reading this lengthy email.

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My Answer:

Just let things settle down for a little while.

Document every exchange and condition of the child upon return to you. Keep your documentation very organized (e.g., in a bound notebook, or in something like MS Excel, or ideally, a software program like OPTIMAL that I have on my What you must Have page).

You can't speculate about the future, so knock if off-- it's not helpful to your sanity or your case. If you CAN predict the future, please email me the winning numbers for the next California LOTTO, and then I can hire an attorney to run this website!

The most important point you make is... if he's too disabled to work, he's too disabled to care for a rebellious toddler for extended periods of time.

But in the meantime, I don't imagine you'll get child support for now.

Regarding the kidnapping, if the threat has been made, you should have raised it before signing that agreement. Your willful agreement to this parenting plan indicates that you didn't take the threat too seriously (i.e., that's how a court would see it). If you hear it again, immediately tell your attorney and seek emergency orders for relief to prevent an international abduction.

An evaluator examines the homes and reports on findings. A mediator seeks to bring two parties to agreement. These are two very different people.

If any problems arise, you've got the kid 6 days per week and 7 nights per week. You head into court with 95% of the game already done (see my What You Must Know page).

For that reason, you shouldn't do anything stupid like hide the kid in a different location. Why would you want to piss off a judge, when you're already effectively the sole custodians of this child?

All you can do is wait for the father to screw up, then go to court to modify the parenting plan. If the father doesn't screw up, then it's good for the kid, albeit less convenient for your wishful plans to have the father out of the picture.

These things take time, so relax. He sounds like a loser-- he'll screw up. Just be there to document it and ask your attorney to act on it.


This website gives common sense advice that is not intended to act as legal guidance nor psychological guidance. The author is neither an attorney nor licensed psychologist. For specific legal guidance or specific psychological guidance, consult with a licensed professional.

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