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Joint decision making rights, who files in court when the parents don't agree?

Posted by on Apr. 10, 2014 at 12:48 AM
  • 29 Replies

SD is 13, nearly 14 has developmental delays. BM has been in denial of this since day 1. Well, at least since I've been in the picture (I can't see how things may have been different before then though, as SD was only 1 1/2 when I started dating DH). How to treat SD's developmental delays has been a fight between DH and BM since BM decided she wanted to hurt DH by taking off with SD. Prior to that BM didn't care so long as she wasn't being bothered about it.

Then, BM took off with SD and SD's special needs weren't being met. BM took SD out of physical, occupational, and speech therapies and a special needs pre-school when she took off with SD. It then became a DH's word versus BM's word battle in court. SD wasn't in regular therapy again until DH got custody (this was 9 1/2 years after BM took off with her). There was no CO before BM took off, so it was legal, and then BM was granted majority residential time due to the fact that she had physical custody at the time (the judge told her the only reason he was granting her majority residential time is because he didn't want what little therapy SD was getting to be disrupted).

So, DH has custody. BM is supposed to have joint decision making rights, but for the last nearly 2 years she's pretty much just gone with whatever DH wants. However, when she gets mad at DH for some reason or another she'll threaten that he can't do anything without her permission and he doesn't want to make her mad.

This leads us to the current problem. SD is finally on an IEP at school. She had full evaluations in EVERY area possible. SD's IQ is 78, all of her testing shows her performing below average. SD has never in her life ever passed a state assessment. SD is required to pass these state assessments to graduate high school. There are 2 different programs available to kids like SD that will get her a high school diploma and some job skills, one of these programs also offers some college credit.

BM has said no way to both programs. She wants to focus of dealing with SD's "text anxiety" so that she can score well on her SATs and ACTs and get into a good 4 year college.

Um, that's not happening. SD is never going to go to a 4 year college. She MAY go to our local community college (DH and I have looked into that as well), but will require a LOT of assistance. There's no way SD is going to be able to take the SAT or ACT, its impossible. None of her service providers think this is reasonable, and honestly BM is setting SD up to fail.

The problem is, we can't file in court and wait for a judge to rule that DH gets to make these decisions or that these other programs are in SD's best interest. One of these programs (if we go with it) requires enrollment pretty quickly (we just found out about SD's options, and DH tried to bring it up to BM nearly a month ago, but just got an email response).

So, can DH enroll SD into this program against BM's wishes, and then BM has to file in court and prove to a judge that it's not in SD's best interest? Or does DH need to jump the gun and file in court proving that BM doesn't have a clue as to what SD's true needs are?

Right now decision making is 50/50 and they're supposed to go to mediation if they disagree. They went to mediation last year and nothing was solved. In fact the mediator didn't work with them to address any of DH's concerns. The mediator just put a communication agreement into place that both DH and BM signed, however BM hasn't once followed through with the agreement (although the agreement says it's not legally admissible).

by on Apr. 10, 2014 at 12:48 AM
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Replies (1-10):
Annawest
by on Apr. 10, 2014 at 2:30 AM
3 moms liked this
If it were me; I'd sign my child up for the program I felt best met my child's need and let the other parent take me to court. The fact that your DH is custodial and that BM isn't all that involved in stuff would make my decision for me. If BM wants to take him to court than your DH has all the backing information to prove this program is best for SD.
chanizen
by Platinum Member on Apr. 10, 2014 at 6:26 AM

This would be my approach as well.  Good answer.

Quoting Annawest: If it were me; I'd sign my child up for the program I felt best met my child's need and let the other parent take me to court. The fact that your DH is custodial and that BM isn't all that involved in stuff would make my decision for me. If BM wants to take him to court than your DH has all the backing information to prove this program is best for SD.


amantonacci
by Platinum Member on Apr. 10, 2014 at 6:49 AM
This!

Quoting Annawest: If it were me; I'd sign my child up for the program I felt best met my child's need and let the other parent take me to court. The fact that your DH is custodial and that BM isn't all that involved in stuff would make my decision for me. If BM wants to take him to court than your DH has all the backing information to prove this program is best for SD.
thecircus8
by Silver Member on Apr. 10, 2014 at 7:25 AM
I would sign her up Tink. Because it is highly unlikely that BM would file something, and if she does you have plenty of evidence proving DH is in the right.

A judge is going to see that.
owl0210
by Bronze Member on Apr. 10, 2014 at 7:55 AM
Sign her up so that she can get the services she needs. I can't imagine a judge hearing a contempt motion over this.
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FloridaMomma
by on Apr. 10, 2014 at 8:11 AM
What did BM say in the email? What are her objections against the program? (Is it so far away from BM that she would never get any midweek visitation? Or, does it have a high drop out rate?)

If it were me, I would do my best to coparent by listening to the other parent's concerns and trying to address them. If BM was suggesting another program, I would look into it and do my best to assess it fairly. Then, if I still thought the program I had found was best, I would try again to convince the other parent. If that didn't work, I'd go to court if I thought I had enough time to have my motion heard (at least 3 + months).

What are the ramifications to SD of you enroll her in the program and later have to disenroll her?

If you don't have time to go to court and you've done your best to assuage BM's concerns, then I guess I would go ahead and enroll her.
Tinkerbellmama
by Platinum Member on Apr. 10, 2014 at 10:49 AM
Its a program in our district, it wouldn't change anything as far as visitation.

BM said the programs aren't for SD and that she feels we should address SD's "test anxiety" so that she can score well on the SATs and ACTs and get into a good college.

Its not test anxiety holding SD back on these tests, its the fact that her IQ is 78 and she just can't pass these tests.

Quoting FloridaMomma: What did BM say in the email? What are her objections against the program? (Is it so far away from BM that she would never get any midweek visitation? Or, does it have a high drop out rate?)

If it were me, I would do my best to coparent by listening to the other parent's concerns and trying to address them. If BM was suggesting another program, I would look into it and do my best to assess it fairly. Then, if I still thought the program I had found was best, I would try again to convince the other parent. If that didn't work, I'd go to court if I thought I had enough time to have my motion heard (at least 3 + months).

What are the ramifications to SD of you enroll her in the program and later have to disenroll her?

If you don't have time to go to court and you've done your best to assuage BM's concerns, then I guess I would go ahead and enroll her.
Birdseed
by Platinum Member on Apr. 10, 2014 at 10:56 AM
1 mom liked this

I think that your DH should contact an attorney for advisement. 

Were I in his shoes, I would prepare copies of all of the information from the teachers, therapists, whatever and send a letter stating that based on this informational, all professionals have recommended X program.  I'd leave it at that.  I'd not say "and I'm going to enroll her."  I'd just enroll her and call it good.  If BM wants to address it in court, you have ample documentation why this is the right choice and nothing to support BM's claim that it's "just" test anxiety.

andie646c
by Silver Member on Apr. 10, 2014 at 10:56 AM

I'd sign her up ... it's not up to her at this point. Dad has custody, he determines primary residence. Primary residence determines school attended. If BM doesn't like it, she can take dad to court. What's the judge going to do, even if he doesn't agree? Tell dad to take her out?

dawncs
by on Apr. 10, 2014 at 11:25 AM

 I would sign her up for the program that the teachers recommend for her on a high school track. As an educator myself, I have found over time that the teachers tend to know the best placements for each special education student since they last a long time in teaching it.

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