Can we discuss "in the best interests of the child?"

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by MidwestMom, Jul 4, 2012.

  1. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I have no idea if anyone is even interested in this topic, but I think about it a lot these days because my son is going through his divorce and X is not in any way behaving like the mother she used to be. Yet because she is the woman, she gets physical custody and also son would like to go to court about some of her behaviors, but his lawyer, once of the biggest in Missouri, tell him that if nothing can be proven, she can do what she likes. He would have to hire a P.I. (this idea is on the table) to get any judge to pay attention to his concerns in Missouri. To them, the "best interests of the child" are really "what the mother wants" and "making sure both parents see the child." Even if the parent is horrible, it is still in the best interests of the child to see the parent, sometimes more often than the stable parent.

    X is running around with her boyfriend, taking Little S. to drinking parties and keeping him up until the wee hours of the morning. Today Son met Little S. at a gas station, which is where X wanted to drop him off. She looked hung over. Little S. was tired and dressed in wrinkled clothes. X takes Little S. out late almost every night she has him. Son is starting to wonder if X is using drugs, but, of course, he can't possibly know. He does know that X is much more into her new honey than into her son. She just left home on Monday and he got to see her behavior for a few months before she left. They aren't divorced yet.

    Wouldn't the best interests of the child be staying most of the time with the more stable parent? The one most interested in giving him a consistent, loving home? Unless Mom is arrested, however, that doesn't happen, does it? Son can't afford a long, drawn out custody battle and it's possible he wouldn't win anyway.

    Son and the rest of our family are waiting for X to finally implode. She is acting very erratic and unlike her old self so something has definitely changed for the worse. But we are worried t hat Little S. may be caught in the crossfire of whatever happens.

    I think in the old days they had better divorce laws, such as actually not smiling upon allowing new boyfriends to stay overnight while the kids were there. Now you can pretty much do whatever you want to do, and the child has to deal with it...unless you have $$$ for an endless battle. Live-ins are the #1 perpetrators of child sexual abuse. Sometimes the woman or man barely knows the new live-in. X met this winner on a dating website...

    Just a vent. Thanks for reading.
  2. hearts and roses

    hearts and roses Mind Reader

    Has your son OFFERED to take son so X could be 'free' of him and do what she wants? Sometimes the way an option is presented makes all the difference.

    Instead of trying to make X be a better mom, give her an out without recriminations. Know what I mean??
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2012
  3. KTMom91

    KTMom91 Well-Known Member

    Here in CA, it's pretty much joint custody, both physical and legal. I was awarded primary physical custody of Miss KT, but I was the more stable parent. Hubby ended up with joint custody of the boys, and he was the more stable parent.
  4. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    How about shared custody? Isn't that super popular now days? Could son be able to discuss with X that he would be more than willing to take son off her hands, freeing her from the responsibility? With the way things are going, she might jump at the chance. Obviously sitters are an issue or she wouldn't be taking him everywhere. I know this has got to be tearing son up inside......but he may have to turn on the charm for a while and see if he can talk her into a better custody arrangement.

    Any proof you guys have, start documenting and nagging cps. No, they may not do anything.......but it might give him a paper trail to win full custody.

    I know it's got to be hard to watch from the sidelines though, knowing there isn't much you can do to help the situation.


    And no, until abuse or neglect can be proven, court assumes Mom is perfect.
  5. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    Where my son was conceived, it is considered the best interest of the child to have both parents in his/her life. So what you are saying about the mother's behavior and so forth and that nothing can be done unless a PI is hired to prove her unfit- that would work both ways. The father would have the same rights to visitation, whatever, unless he was proven unfit- even if he owed 10's of thousands of child support and never paid a dime.

    In a way I can see the concept but in another way it seems like a bandaid solution to me. I do agree that a child's best interest is really served by knowing and having some sort of relationship with both parents- it's not supposed to be an either-or when it comes to a child and the parents. on the other hand, common sense should prevail at some point. I guess that's where evidence in front of a judge comes in. Sigh.
  6. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    I think it's a tough one, MWM. Although from the adult perspective, it looks terrible that your soon ex-daughter in law is doing these things with a child present - and they are obviously not good things - I don't know that the solution is necessarily taking the child away from the mother. Even to go to the father. Probably it is the child's best interest in most case to stay with the mother, but I understand it is very hard to be on the sidelines in your position and see what you are seeing. A tough question: what would someone who is on X's side say about her behaviour? Is there a way in which in can be more favourably construed? I am just playing devil's advocate.
    It could be that the stability and nurture of the other parent in these cases would be better in the long term for a child. But a child emotionally wants to stay with his or her mother. Who can make such a decision? It is a judgement of Solomon.
  7. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    All the time, but X wants to bring Little S. into her world with her new sweetie and her parties so there is nothing he can do. X will not have a conversation with Son. She simply calls to tell him the drop off point for Little S. They speak of nothing else. She will hang up on him. She will not communicate at all. She is not being reasonable.

    Son *does* have Little S. half the time. It's the other half he worries about. Today Little S. was so tired from the party with X the night before that he was yawning all day and fell asleep at 5pm. It will be interesting to see where this goes. Son's father, my ex, is paying for his lawyer, and ex hub has made it clear that he wants to spend as little as possible and, after divorce is final, will no t get involved in money for a custody battle. Sadly, hub and I have nothing to offer.

    The system hoovers.
  8. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    There are several challenges at play here.

    1) In law, the assumption is "innocent until proven guilty", which is why without legally admissable evidence, "mom" is assumed to be a fit parent. (as is "dad") Court doesn't have a choice on this point.

    2) Assumptions about caregivers and breadwinners. Yes, it's still wide-spread. The "system" assumes it is easier for "mom" to be the primary care-giver and for "dad" to be the primary breadwinner. Being primary breadwinner, in theory, makes it difficult to have the time available to also be primary care-giver. (don't ask "the system" how single parents do it)

    3) Age of the child. In many places, at a certain age, the child has the right to speak up in these situations, and to be considered in the whole picture. Here, it's about age 12. If the child prefers to live with one parent over the other, in the absense of documentation that would preclude that placement, the court either "will" or "should" give strong weight to the request. (Little S isn't old enough for this to come into play)

    4) Educational and/or medical consideration. Some places are putting more weight on this. Which parent can provide stability, consistency with school and medical teams (rather than bouncing around), rapport with teachers, etc. But, Little S isn't in school yet.

    5) Extended family. Isn't "supposed" to be a major consideration, but often is. Which parent has the most local support? A "dad" who has support for his custody bid from both his and X's parents... tends to get it. But if "mom" has the support of her parent(s), and S doesn't have local support (NOT your fault at all), there is less evidence to skew the decision away from the "norm".
  9. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    School doesn't really matter here unless when Little S. goes to school, he falls asleep whenever he is with X. Both X and Sportsfan have the same education. Sportsfan has a much higher paying job, but all that means is he pays more child support.

    Neither of them have family support in Missouri at all. X's crazy family (and they are) are all in Chicago. Sportsfans father and sister are in Chicago and we're in Wisconsin. So that's even up.
  10. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    I'm guessing his earnings work against him. "Presumably", he has to be more committed to work than to Little S... (not in real life, but in the eyes of the "system").

    Once Little S starts school, there will be other eyes and ears involved. For right now, there simply is no easy answer that can come from an institution like court.
  11. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    How old is Little S? If he is 3 or older, they will impute her income at minimum wage because she CAN get a part-time job now. The courts will allow a mother to stay home with a baby for the first three years but then they expect them to get off their lazy butts and not expect the fathers to support them the rest of their lives. She also cant count day care for her other kids. Those arent his problems.

    I do think best interest in the child does have to be thought of and it isnt a black and white thing. I think its always in the best interest of a child to have the most people in their lives that love them. If their biological parents cannot stay together to raise them then they need to work on how to parent together in harmony so the child feels safe and loved by all involved.
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2013
  12. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    The best interest of any child is to have two stable parents who love them no matter what, and who DON'T drag them into inappropriate situations.

    That said, there is a strong precedent to give primary physical custody to the mother. No matter what. And it's horrible in some cases.

    SportsFan needs to document EVERYTHING. This may require text messages/recording conversations/voicemails. He also needs to concentrate on being the best possible Dad that he can, no matter what X throws at him. Because there is a child involved and SF and X can't agree, the divorce will NOT be easy and straightforward - SF can ask for a homestudy, psychiatric evaluation and GAL. He may or may not get them - but if there is any possibility - this will be it.


    I wish the system were different.
  13. Signorina

    Signorina Guest

    If a private investigator is the key to his sons best interests -he needs to hire one; regardless of the cost. I realize there are financial constraints but reopening the custody battle in the future will be more expensive. There is simply too much at stake to let it go.

    He should also look into asking the court to appoint a Guardian ad Litem to look out for s's interests.

    I know how hard it is to be far away & unable to intervene. {{hugs}}
  14. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    Document each telephone call. Document each pick up and drop off. Document if the child is unkempt and take a photo. Document change in eating and sleeping patterns. Listen very closely and make note of comments that might indicate unacceptable behaviors. Observe closely to see if child/clothing is clean and if a car seat is always used.

    That is the only way I know to prepare for a later court hearing. Of course it is great if you have funds for oustide help but if not a quarter spiral notebook and a Bic pen can make a huge difference in the long run.

    by the way, the suggestion to offer babysitting time often works well. That is exactly how I ended up protecting my grandsons from God knows what exposure. I was 100% pleasant and friendly when I would say "if you've got plans and don't want to worry about the kids they are welcome to stay at our house so you can have fun..IF you want to".
    Almost always she choose to party with-o the boys and I was able to exhale. So sorry you're in this situation. Hugs DDD
  15. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    I would agree with this, and take it one step further. This is a small child here. She will most likely spend the majority of her time with her mother for some time. My gift of 30 years of hindsight tells me that I shouldn't have fought so hard about who L lived with. There was NO WAY I was going to get custody of her from her dad and step-mom. They just plain had too much power. I could have made it better for everyone by abandoning the fight.

    Here's what I got out of fighting about it - I was angry and sad and an easy target. Point at an angry sad parent and say "(S)he's unbalanced and it's not healthy", and you won't have to prove it. It doesn't matter that the other parent is making you angry and sad with outrageous behaviors. They're holding it together in front of the court and you're not. As time went on the constant whispers of my instability echoed in L's ears in such a way that whether she believed them or not was immaterial. The child who grew tired of being lugged back and forth every weekend grew into the rebellious serial runaway teenager with a dead step-mother, a father who didn't want her, and a mother she had no respect for and who couldn't control her. As a woman who had no skills L learned to triangulate that image of my being unbalanced to placate her father's guilt at what he had done so that he would continue to support her financially until she was nearly 30 years old. No one liked me anyway, so who cares how badly she acted towards me? I was unbalanced and deserved it.

    It's like a love affair. If you strangle them trying to hold on, they'll never want you. Offer them love and let them be themselves and allow them to love you back in their own way and in their own time and they will.

    MWM, the thing that strikes me hard about your posts regarding your son and his wife and his child is how invested you are in all of this. I know you're angry and that you feel she is inappropriate - she is - and that your son is getting the shaft - he is. But you are an outsider in this marriage. You should not be plotting and planning for his wife's failure on the level that you are. I struggle with your posts, because I feel as though you want us to unconditionally support your anger more than you want advice. I'm not sure what you mean by "Can we discuss", so I hope that what your asking for is an honest opinion, which is what I offer. If not, that's ok. You can take what I say with a grain of salt and I won't be offended. I say what I say with love and care for you and your family. Bear in mind that we don't have many women here have the benefit of knowing what it is like to lose custody of their own child to an unfit parent and watch that child grow into a really lousy adult. I do, and I promise you that the one thing I would have done differently would have been to leave the anger and indignity behind. It made me far too easy a target.

    FWIW, while for a time I would have appreciated my parents being as involved and indignant on my behalf as you are for your son, it wouldn't be long before I resented them trying to make such personal decisions for me. Your son has to work this out on his own, and the best thing that you can do for him is love him and let him.
  16. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Witzhand, oh, I'm fine with your But of course I'm angry because of Little S. As far as what I an do, there is nothing I can do or have done. Sportsfan calls me. I don't usually call him because he is going through a lot and it's up to him when he needs to vent. My son is NOT upset that his father and I are involved in his struggle. In fact, often he gets angry and thinks we should get MORE involved, such as go down there, RIGHT NOW! Of course that is irrational and not possible because he chose to move away. But he is an adult child who wants and requires a lot of emotional support yet he is very shy socially so he doesn't have a support system in place in Missouri. So you are two different people, and I treat him as he is. is not possible to be there for him. I can go down there a few times a year, but that's all.

    My son knows how hard it is to get custody if you are a male in Missouri and he doesn't expect it. But we do both expect X to implode because of the way she is. It may take a while, but it will happen. Either that or she will have to scale back on her behavior...maybe the new honey will get tired of her. It has only been a few months. She isn't even divorced yet. IF she is alone perhaps she will revert to the sensible mother she used to be. I don't believe it is good for kids to see their newly separated parents sleeping with other people nor do I feel it is good parenting to keep a child up half the night to attend a party. I won't change my mind about that either, but unless Sportsfan's father has a change of heart, there is no way he can afford a PI.

    I do think the laws are not in the best interests of the child. I believe they are in the best interests of the runaround parents who don't want to really be parents anymore and want the option of going back to their teen years and taking their bewildered children with them. But I'm not an active participant in this battle. It is what it is and I wanted and needed to vent. If S. ever asks me to back off, I will. But he isn't so far.

    And, yes, I am angry...mostly at the system.
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2012
  17. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    He should just lay low, love his child, and let her implode. She will oblige him with that, no doubt.
  18. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    Witz is 100% correct - just keep something (horribly frustrating) in mind. It may take a while for her to do so. Or - she may return to the loving mother you've referenced. Either way... It could take a while. From my own experience, on the "outside" - the children will remember the parent that loves them - if that is both, it is better, but - they will also remember ANYTHING at all that is ugly on either part. And while my own husband did everything he did out of love for his kids, some of it was pretty extreme, and the kids remember. Especially Onyxx. (They also remember things that didn't happen but were told to them by bio, but that is just a risk that has to be taken.)

    Let SportsFan vent - but, court or no - loving his child and doing the best he can (and not going to extremes) - is the best interest of the child.
  19. JJJ

    JJJ Active Member

    Did Sportsfan interview more than one attorney? His sounds defeatist and clueless.

    Has he filed for temp custody yet? When X left, did he let her take Lil Sport with her? Without court orders, they are BOTH equal wrt to the child.

    UNLESS HE HAS FILED IN COURT FOR TEMPORARY CUSTODY AND PRIMARY CUSTODY, he is telling the court that he is just fine with mom's life style.
  20. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    JJJ, I will tell him. His attorneys, like I said, are the best in the state by reputation. He must have been told it would be useless to file. I really don't know, but I"ll bring it up to him. Trust me, I am not happy with this "great" attorny, however everything I've read about Missouri seems to back him up. Still...well...I'm not happy, but I can't pick my son's attorney. Yes, he spoke to other attornies first. He really needs a PI to change things. If anyone knows of a profession that acts a little like a PI but doesn't charge as much, please let me

    Step and Witz, if she keeps this lifestyle up, yes, she will implode and, no, we have no idea when. It's a wait and see game, one that is not good for Little S.

    And thanks!