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Joint custody after abuse?

Posted by on Jan. 28, 2008 at 2:51 AM
  • 12 Replies
Just wondering if anyone else has been in this kind of situation or has anything heplful to say about it...I'm nearly losing my mind over this stuff .

My husband and I seperated before my son was born - I left in October, my son was born in November. I had him come stay in the hospital with me because I was frankly terrified and needed someone there in his capacity, it didn't matter that the person with me constantly was the same one who beat me up. I knew he wouldn't hurt me in the hospital and I didn't need to be alone thinking about all the scary ways the birth went wrong.

After I had eyes clear enough to see my husband's belligerance with the hospital staff I noticed things I didn't see while I was with him (we were together very briefly, I only married him because I didn't want to be a single mom) : his destructive selfishness, his pride and his constant anger, his controlling manipulations, his twisted view of the world, and I took out a restraining order. Between the ex-parte order immediately granting the order and the final hearing,  he sued for custody. So the final restraining order hearing only granted me custody of my son until his custody complaint was heard.

My son, at the time, wasn't even supposed to be born yet. He was two months premature, due in January. My husband wants joint custody - three hours a day until six months, then six hours a day, then every other day at a year. I know the court won't grant it  - but how the hell can he think that will be possible? I'm breastfeeding my son, and I have a restraining order against him, so I can't (and don't even want to) tell him all the things I do to integrate myself into my son's routines in order to minimize the amount of time my son spends screaming. I'm mothering as carefully and as attentively as possible, and making sure my family at least know what the plan is, but my husband won't care. He'll do things his way - and the final time he hurt me, he said "If you act like a five year old I'll treat you like one" before throwing me bodily out the front door with enough force to bruise me. See why I don't want this man around a child? (I was refusing to talk to him about something bothering me. He not only frequently responded to me with violence, he also believed his violence was appropriate and justified, and never expressed remorse, not even when we were in public and I had makeup barely covering bruises on my face.)

So I've hired a lawyer and my mother took out a loan she can't afford to pay back to finance this crap, my family's all pitching in wonderfully, but I'm terrified. I have grounds to terminate my husband's parental rights - because his rights were terminated to two previous children by another woman - but my lawyer won't push for that, she says I have a better chance for supervised visitation.

But this man...he's scary manipulative. I took out criminal charges against him for a few of the times he beat me up and right after getting out of jail he's e-mailing my friends about how much he loves me. I forgot who I was while I was with him. I won't go into more detail, but I cannot imagine a life where I have to share my son with him.

SInce I left him I learned the freedom of being able to decide what to do with my day, what to do with my hair, who to talk to, what to wear (although my choices are now limited by my son's convenience, but that's normal), and most importantly, how to raise my son. I can't imagine having to live through visitations, explaining to my son why daddy isn't coming over for Christmas, leaving my son with someone who will...corrupt him, having my child grow up with such a strongly negative, angry, manipulative influence in his life...i don't want this for him, and I don't want this for me. My husband (N.C. law requires a year separation before a divorce) is the kind of jackass to carefully convince my son that I'm a horrible person in all sorts of atrocious but believable ways. My husband, without my knowledge, took personal journals from my posession while we were dating and photocopied them in case he needed to use them against me later. And now he's trying to. Manipulative.

The hearing is soon. My lawyer is confident. But I can see how the rest of my life could go alone with my son - making sure he's raised by people who love him and honestly want the best for him. I think about our life with my husband involved...and it's like running up against a brick wall, all the plans just stop, and it seems like my life just ends right there.
by on Jan. 28, 2008 at 2:51 AM
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Replies (1-10):
iamaimee
by on Jan. 28, 2008 at 3:03 AM
I am so sorry for what you are going through. It's like a total flashback of my like 4 years ago. I left 3 wks before my dd was born. It is so hard and so scary.

Please feel free to PM me any time.

I think your attorney may be right. How long ago were the rights with the other children terminated? Your judge will probably want to give him a chance and supervised visits are a chance for that. I was asking for them at first but had no attorney. My xh's attorney allowed me to misunderstand the arrangment. I thought I would be spending $140/week. And, I didn't have that. So, I dropped my request. Now, when my dd is 4 they finally awarded the sup visits due to his behavior and abuse, mental health etc.

BTW - please be sure to get counseling for your self. After all you've been through and will be facing, you need to keep your spirits up. It will help to have someone (other than your family & friends) to talk to openly.
Strong4Sal
by on Jan. 28, 2008 at 7:13 AM
..."leaving my son with someone who will...corrupt him, having my child grow up with such a strongly negative, angry, manipulative influence in his life...i don't want this for him, and I don't want this for me."

.."is the kind of jackass to carefully convince my son that I'm a horrible person in all sorts of atrocious but believable ways. My husband, without my knowledge, took personal journals from my posession while we were dating and photocopied them in case he needed to use them against me later. And now he's trying to. Manipulative."



Wow, I thought my ex was the only one to do such terrible things...
My ex actually took my journals and kept them, he still has some of them and like your ex, he intends on using them against me! And like you, I know he is just trying to manipulate me. And like you, I don't want my ex around my son b/c he will try to make him think that I am a bad person...
UGH! Abusers are obviously very alike, aren't they!?
MissMommie84
by on Jan. 28, 2008 at 7:21 AM
I have never been through the situatin but i read ur post and IMO i don't think he should have joint custody and his visitation should be supervised until he gets help.
If he beat up on you there may be a chance that he will beat up on your son. Men who beat up on women like that are cowards and they try to overpower and being that your son in just a child he might try to over power him.

Fight for keeping full custody and when you go to court tell the judge everything that he has done to you and that you are worried that he might hurt your son and that he needs help....NOT JUST ONE MEETING BUT LONG TERM HELP

GOOD LUCK

 

becbec71
by on Jan. 28, 2008 at 7:43 AM
I have been whee you are. 3.5 years ago.  My kids were 9 and 2.5.  Its hard to go through it. And I too felt the same things you are now.  My rational  mind knew he wouldnt get them but the fear he intilled me was telling me otherwise.  He ended up with visitation. We are going back to court the end of February bc he is abusive to the kids. Now  my son is 6 and his father is physically abusive to him and verbal and emotional to my daughter. She is going to be 13 in April. This time I am not setteling.  Just  journal everything.   As long as you are breast feeding that limits the time he is allowed with him. The judges have seen his kind before. Write down all that he is done to you. The comment about treating you like a 5 year old and then what he did to you. All that stuff.  Fight him with the courts every step of the way.  Show his patterns.  If he was bad to the hospital staff he will show his true colors in court too.
Becky, mom to 2 great kiddos, Samantha and Logan
S_Patterson
by on Jan. 28, 2008 at 6:44 PM
Oh, he'll show his true colors in court. At the restraining order hearing he tried to convince the judge that there were "insuffecient grounds" for the order because I cursed at him and that's why he hit me. Yes, he actually said that. The judge didn't take it, obviously.

I can't stand the fact that he has to prove that he's abusive to my son, he has to actually hurt him before the court will take me seriously. I can't stand the fact that if I'd stayed longer and let him actually break my bones or something, this would all be easier. I left when the worst physical harm was bruises.

He lost the other kids three years ago. And went to anger management counseling (which is bullshit - it just gives guys like him fodder for convicing people they've changed, gives them the vocabulary but not the skills). So the judge will probably want to give him a second chance. And I seriously doubt he'll hurt my son during supervised visits - so later the court will award unsuperviced visits or joint custody.

Then he'll hurt my son, and I won't find out until it's been going on for way too long...I wish I could just move. I hope he gets bored and leaves. He didn't even try to contact his other children for three years, maybe if i make this hard enough on him he'll leave.

But my son has good men to counterbalance. I hope I can do enough.
MommaEl
by on Jan. 28, 2008 at 9:21 PM
Please stay strong and make sure you do NOT go back to him.

Make sure the judge knows about the restraining order and make sure you always, always, always take pictures of any bruises, etc and report it immediately to the police. Make sure your ex knows you will always go to the police for support to enforce the restraining order.

I'm not a lawyer but it seems like there is something in between the severing of parental rights (which courts are loathe to do ... heaven knows why) and supervised visitation (which seems a slam dunk win to me). How about a protective order just to keep him away from you and your son period? Are there no other options?

Above everything have a Plan if he gets more violent.... please stay safe ... you are in my prayers.
MommaEl
by on Jan. 28, 2008 at 9:26 PM

Quoting S_Patterson:

Oh, he'll show his true colors in court. At the restraining order hearing he tried to convince the judge that there were "insuffecient grounds" for the order because I cursed at him and that's why he hit me. Yes, he actually said that. The judge didn't take it, obviously.

I can't stand the fact that he has to prove that he's abusive to my son, he has to actually hurt him before the court will take me seriously. I can't stand the fact that if I'd stayed longer and let him actually break my bones or something, this would all be easier. I left when the worst physical harm was bruises.

He lost the other kids three years ago. And went to anger management counseling (which is bullshit - it just gives guys like him fodder for convicing people they've changed, gives them the vocabulary but not the skills). So the judge will probably want to give him a second chance. And I seriously doubt he'll hurt my son during supervised visits - so later the court will award unsuperviced visits or joint custody.

Then he'll hurt my son, and I won't find out until it's been going on for way too long...I wish I could just move. I hope he gets bored and leaves. He didn't even try to contact his other children for three years, maybe if i make this hard enough on him he'll leave.

But my son has good men to counterbalance. I hope I can do enough.
Do you not love that the abusers get the benefit of the doubt if they are the 'father' but if they had done the same thing to a stranger they would likely be rotting in jail?! NJ, especially my county, had some of the most liberal dumb ass judges ever to inhabit the bench. My ex sexually abused my son who came forward at 3. The doctors all said my son wasn't lying and that I didn't 'coach' him into saying what he did ... but couldn't PROVE any abuse had occurred. The judge decided we had to be a 'family' again. I was like, We've been divorce for 2 1/2 years - we are not a family! He had supervised visitation at the courthouse from the time my son was about 5 (court battle lasted about 2 years!) until he was 8. Then he was allowed to take him unsupervised.

Untold numbers of therapy hours later .... my son is almost 20 and still dealing with the emotional torture he suffered at the hands of his "devoted" father.


igot2
by on Jan. 29, 2008 at 12:40 AM
i'm sorry for everything you're going through and have been through. i think it may depend on each state. my sister's ex was abusive when she finally left him he still filed for joint custody (basically to get under her skin and another way to control her) he did get granted joint custoday but she was living an hour away. the terms the judge gave him was that he was responsible for going to get them and bringing them back to her. fortunately he only bothered to get them ONCE after that. i have to say i was amazed when he was awarded joint custody. the reasoning behind it was that he didn't abuse the children and hadn't posed an immediate threat to the children. i really hope that things work out for you. if there is anything in his past to prove that he's unfit the lawyer should use it and i don't understand why the lawyer won't
arinbidi
by on Jan. 29, 2008 at 10:31 AM
I have to question why your lawyer thinks that after having his rights terminated with other children, you don't have the same chances? If I were you I would push your lawyer to go in that direction. Your lawyer works for you, not the other way around. What if you could win a termination but never tried? You would feel awful if something happened and you hadn't done all you could. Has your lawyer explained to you EXACTLY why she doesn't think you will get more than supervised custody? Doesn't the fact that his rights have been previously terminated speak for itself? To me, your lawyer sounds sub par. Are you certain this is the best legal representation you can get?
MommaEl
by on Jan. 29, 2008 at 8:01 PM

Quoting arinbidi:

I have to question why your lawyer thinks that after having his rights terminated with other children, you don't have the same chances? If I were you I would push your lawyer to go in that direction. Your lawyer works for you, not the other way around. What if you could win a termination but never tried? You would feel awful if something happened and you hadn't done all you could. Has your lawyer explained to you EXACTLY why she doesn't think you will get more than supervised custody? Doesn't the fact that his rights have been previously terminated speak for itself? To me, your lawyer sounds sub par. Are you certain this is the best legal representation you can get?
I agree ... why not try for the termination and settle for unsupervised if you wind up having to 'negotiate'?
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