20 answers

Child Visitation with an Alcoholic Father

I've been divorced 6 years and we have shared parenting. The problem is my ex is bi-polar, on psychiatric meds, and he drinks around the kids, age 9 and 11. As a matter of fact, when we were married I didn't leave the kids with him because he would drink and fall asleep in the chair, leaving the kids unsupervised. He pays his child support and insists on exercising his visitation with them.
Last year, he got a DUI with the kids in the car. Somehow he got his sentence reduced, had to do a weekend in rehab, go to AA, and pay some fines. He swore he would never drink again around the kids and I made it clear to him that I would stop meeting him half way (he lives in Columbus, me and the kids in Cleveland) if he drank in their presence again. Well, the kids have been reporting to me all summer that he's drinking. He passes out in his chair and they can't wake him to fix dinner. I live in fear that he's going to pass out with a cigarette in his hand and burn the apartment down with my kids inside. It's affecting his memory too. Sometimes he'll call and tell me the same thing several times and has no recollection. I truly feel my kids are in danger and don't want to risk losing them, so I put my foot down and told him I won't meet him half way anymore, which I'm not legally obligated to do- I have been doing it out of kindness (or stupidity, you pick) and I'm going to seek advice from a lawyer.
His response is to take me to court to force me to meet halfway because it's too costly to come up to get them every week. He makes 2-3 times what I earn, and he drives a new car while I've been driving a clunker, just trying to make ends meet. Any advice on how to protect my kids and deal with hi would be appreciated....

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Thanks for all your responses. To answer some of your questions, we get along for the kids and do not argue in front of them, but him staying here or me staying at his house is not an option. I have been struggling financially to keep a car running to meet him half way . My stance on that is why should I do spend my time and money to make visitation more convenient for him if he doesn't care enough about his kids to stay sober. That said, the traveling details are minor compared to the real issue, which is their safety.
I plan to talk to a lawyer this Tuesday. Supervised visitation is what I'm going to push for and I would like to go for full custody but I know he will fight it. I also what a stipulation in the visitation papers that states that if he is drinking around the kids, he is in violation of the order. What else they can order I'm not sure. I was very surprised he was given his license back - this is not his 1st DUI. I though that they would at least make him keep one of those breathalyzer devices in his car, but like I said, his lawyer got his charges reduced for good behavior. I contacted Children's Services last year and they informed me they really couldn't do anything, especially since he only has them on the weekends and it's hard to prove he's unfit. After all, drinking is legal and drinking around your kids is not a crime. I would have gotten a lawyer but couldn't afford it. The divorce was in Coshocton Co so I contacted Legal Aid in Tuscarawas Co and although I qualify for help financially, they could not represent me in court. This time, my brother is willing to loan me the money and I'm going to follow through. Also, almost forgot to mention, my ex-mother-in-law and my ex's brother ares willing to testify for me. I don't know if they'll let the kids testify, or if that's even a good idea, but most of the time they don't want to go with him. I really appreciate all your responses, just hope the judge takes it seriously. Thank you

Featured Answers

I don't have any advice but I do think you are doing the right thing. Ignoring his problem with alcohol would be enabling him and that is not good for anyone involved, including him. Maybe once he cannot see his kids anymore he will get help and become a better, happier person and role model for his children. Stay strong!

1 mom found this helpful

Call a lawyer! I am in the process of getting restricted visitation for my kids from their dad for drugs and drinking. You gotta protect the kids! Good luck!

More Answers

I would have the kids call you the next time he passes out and he has them in his custody. Call the police on their behalf. You need proof and they will do something. The only way to protect them is to take drastic but much needed measures so they are never alone with him.

2 moms found this helpful

IT IS ABOUT THE CHILDREN. If he thinks an attorney or judge would rule in his favor, he's mistaken. If there are documented incidents and the children are old enough to tell someone in CPS and/or a child custody evaluator about the situation, they WILL rule in your favor. I JUST went thru this!

If he puts the children in danger - clearly he already has, has shown that he is not responsible w/ them - clearly already has, etc. etc etc., then if I were in your shoes, there is NO WAY I'd do anything other than file for full legal custody and NO visitation until he gets help. Clearly his $$ is spent on alcholo and stuff vs. what's important.......his kids. Garnish his wages if you have to.

Ask yourself..."What kind of role model is he as a father?" "Do I want my children to be around this kind of environment?" "What positive results are there from my kids being around him?"

Depending on your answers...........it will be CLEAR as to the decision you make. If he's not a fit father, REGARDLESS of that fact that he is a biological father, it's NOT productive in any way, shape, or form! You're better off finding someone from church, another family friend, or related man figure for them to spend time with. Find someone or a couple of responsible men who will be willing to guide, nurture, etc. Otherwise, what is the message you are sending? NOT acceptable behavior as a man or father....

2 moms found this helpful

Definitely speak to a lawyer. He got a DUI with the kids in the car? I'm actually amazed that he is still able to see them legally. In IL, they take your kids away for that.
If he is repeating the same things to you, it probably is his memory, but it probably means he is just drunk all day long.
This is very sad, and I'm sorry for you and your children. Alcoholism is a horrible, selfish disease. Chances are, he wants to quit more than anything but he just can't.
Still, your kids can't be in that situation. It will destroy them. Seek out a lawyer. Consider whether or not you will be willing to have your children testify against him. I think this has to be one of those situations where you have to be willing to do anything to protect your kids.
Good luck, please keep us posted. I know there are a lot of parents in the world in similars situations and don't know what to do.

2 moms found this helpful

Hi K.. First of all, I am sorry that you and especially your children, have to go through this. Every single time they go with their dad in a vehicle, or are at his home, as far as I'm concerned, they aren't safe and as their mom you must protect them. I would have went to see an attorney as soon as he received the DUI with them in the car. Meeting halfway would be the least of my worries! I don't mean to sound harsh and I am not in your situation and I'm not judging you. I just think you should protect your kids at all costs. He's an alcoholic & on psychiatric meds, what if he doesn't take his meds? Not only is their safety in jeapordy, but what about what it is doing to them mentally. That must be hard on them when they see their father so drunk he's passed out in a chair unable to be woken up. I would definately talk to an attorney asap! Be strong & do what is right for your kids, they need you! Best of luck to you, my prayers are with you. Keep us posted!!

1 mom found this helpful

You need to contact the court. It will be easier for you because its on his record. My SIL is going through a divorce and mentioned her ex's problem and he cannot get visitation unless he can pass a drug screening and even then its supervised visitation. If he is drinking he does not need to be around the kids let alone driving them. Your kids are to precous to put them in harms way and no judge would do put a kid intlo that situation. Talk to your lawyer.

1 mom found this helpful

You have gotten some good advice. I would only add that at 9 and 11, your children are old enough to be interviewed by the judge when the case goes to court and hopefully he/she will do what is in the children's best interest.

Lots of people think visitation is required in order to get support, but that is not always the case.

I would call child protection services and get advice there.

Those children need to be safe and they are not safe with a drunk father. furthermore, if he is bipolar, what is to prevent him from deciding someday that the kids would be better off dead? It sure would not be the first time a parent went off the deep end. You need to find some help and don't wait.

Blessings, L.

1 mom found this helpful

Hmmm. This is a tough one. Does the Ex have any family near him where he lives? Maybe you could call them and explain your concerns and they can come over and "visit" when the kids are there?

It seems to me that you would have a fairly strong case against him having them alone, or at least driving with them seeing how he already has a DUI on file, when the kids were in the car?

Like you, I would be having trouble with this as well. Maybe you can offer to drive them the whole way if he pays gas, that way you will know they are at least safe for the car ride. How is your relationship with the EX? If you guys get along, maybe you can just talk with him and work out a compromise? I would rather the EX come and stay at my house for his visitation then be sending my kids sop far away in that environment. Maybe you could stay with him with the kids...at least for while?

IDK? Very difficult situation you have there and I would absolutely be feeling VERY uncomfortable with the whole situation....is he a "lovey dovey drunk" maybe one of these days when he calls you and you can tell he is drunk you should have a conversation with him about your concerns...maybe he will agree to a compromise? Then even if he doesn't remember it you can use that as an example of how your fears are valid?

I would absolutely be talking to an attorney!

1 mom found this helpful

I would seek a lawyers advice. If the children are in danger its up to you to protect them. It seems to me that with his past along with the DUI with the kids in the car he shouldnt even have a license. Your children are taking this all in and you dont want them to think its ok. I grew up with an alcoholic father and I cant even count the ways it impacted my life. Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

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