Needing Help on Visitation with a Child with down Syndrome

Updated on July 26, 2008
C.G. asks from Tooele, UT
16 answers

My ex-husband and I have been divorced since '04 & it has just been in the past year he has wanted to see his kids. I have a daughter who is 10 and a son with Down syndrome who is 8. This summer is the first summer they have gone for an extended period of time to be with their dad. When I called last night my ex husband said that our son "had an accident" today and he has black eyes and scratches on his face. He said he doesn't know what happened but I believe his 5 year old step-daughter hit him. She has behavoiral problems. When I contacted my attorney today she said that there wasn't much I could do. Does anyone have any solutions for me? I want to take him out of the home but I can't because I am violating the non-custodial extended parent time. Any solutions?

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P.H.

answers from Colorado Springs on

I think I would phone the 10-year-old big sister and ask HER to please tell me what happened to her little brother. If it was something the stepsister, 5, did, big sister will tell on her.

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E.B.

answers from Salt Lake City on

C.,

Legal requirements etc, are different for vulnerable populations. Contact the council for exceptional children and talk to an advocate. They have a lot of expereince in these matters and can give you good advice.

Good luck,
E.

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T.D.

answers from Salt Lake City on

We go through this with the ex's as well. Both mine and My husbands. If you are worried call the police in your ex's town and reguest a welfare check. They will go see the kids and if there is a concern then you can be notified and get the kids. Then you have documentation that there is a concern and the child needed to come home.

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K.J.

answers from Salt Lake City on

pray about it. go with what feels right. if you pray and have a peaceful feeling that everything will be ok, then i wouldn't worry. if you feel like you should do something, maybe your attorney can help, even if it's just having someone stop by to make sure all is well

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M.P.

answers from Salt Lake City on

There is an order called a protective order on behalf of a child (if you are in UT). It is for children who are being physically abused, even if it is a little sister. You can file for one for free, and often times get it signed by a judge the same day, which would establish temporary orders with a hearing about two weeks out to determine final orders. I know in Davis County, UT there are advocates (I work with them) to help fill out the papers and also to help determine how it might effect other custody orders. I know other counties have advocates, too. Such an order often times orders a state child protective services case to be open. It basically gives you the opportunity to get answers if your ex won't cooperate.

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T.T.

answers from Boise on

Intervene immediately! A child does not get black eyes from a small scuffle or hit. If his eye(s) are black - something major happened. AND...if your husband does not know what happened - he is not watching the children nearly close enough. Do whatever it takes to protect your sweet boy!

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J.R.

answers from Salt Lake City on

Contact your local Division of Child and Family Services. I can't imagine that you would be forced to send your child to an environment where he is neglected (where was Dad or step-mom??) With his limited abilities, he needs supervision. Perhaps supervised visits can be had, or maybe visitation isn't the right answer....Just check, they are usually great to answer questions. Good Luck!

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T.M.

answers from Denver on

I would get a new attorney. If you believe your son is at harm because of his step sister, I would go back to court. The court is suppose to act in the best interest of your child.

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D.K.

answers from Denver on

Unless you have proof positive there is neglect or your son is in danger there isn't much you can do. How much longer is the visit? Ask your daughter to keep her eyes open and let you know if the step daughter is gettig abusive. In that case you have grounds to remove your son. If he is in a home where there is another child that is harming him and your ex isn't doing anything, then certainly that is grounds.
You just need solid proof.
I would wonder what the heck your ex was thinking if his step daughter hurt HIS son!!! I mean that is enough to have her removed from the house ASAP, for a 5 year old to cause that much damage, where the hell was he during this???????
I pray for you and hope you find resolution. I dread those extended visits which with my kids and their dad will happen in the next few years! HUGS

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K.W.

answers from Salt Lake City on

Is this extended parent-time period the the uninterrupted or not? If possible, I would request your weekend parent-time in the middle of the two-weeks and take the child to the doctor. The welfare check is a good idea because it may give you the proof you need when you go back to court. Wihtout evidence, it will be difficult for you to convince the judge/commissioner that parent-time restrictions should be put in place. You may want to discuss attempting to limit the parent-time between your ex-husband and your son in the future with your attorney ASAP. A motion can be filed with the court. A big issue will be that your ex-husband will deny that he told you he did not know what happened or that anything happened at all. Your ex-husband and his family need to be educated about how to take care of your son.

Of course, you could also thank your ex-husband for being honest and ask if you could come see your son today so that you won't worry so much. It is hard not to blame him, but without more information you don't know what happened for sure. Perhaps your ex-husband would agree to you shortening his parent-time with your son so that you could take him home. Your son's experience with his dad should be positive and if something is awry at dad's home it needs to be remedied quickly so that your son's relationship with his dad won't be harmed too much. If your ex-husband is receptive (he may be but his new spouse may not be), offer whatever resources you have to make the parent-time safe and fun for both children.

God bless and good luck.

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C.W.

answers from Provo on

I have no experience in this area, but I would be alarmed, as you are. Did the ex take him to a doctor? Black eyes can be a sign of a head injury with bleading in the brain. I think I would contact child protective services in his area and see if they would go and assess the situation. If they don't think the situation is safe they would probably remove your kids and send them back to you.

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R.Z.

answers from Denver on

Is your child in an extended year service with his home school? Is your home school counselor or adminstrator supervising special programs available to you for advisement? Have you consulted the social worker related to the court and your child in this case? You can always call CHILD PROTECTIVE SERVICES in your county or school district to assist.

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P.W.

answers from Provo on

I think you need a mutual friend (which could be your ex's family) or someone who can go check on him and/or spend time with him or them altogether. Preferably someone your son already feels comfortable with. They don't necessarily need to be like a spy, just someone who can help.

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M.B.

answers from Denver on

This must be a very stressful situation but I am not sure why you went straight to your attorney( who buy the way charge you some serious cash every time you converse but that's a whole diefferent matter). I would think the absolut best case for your kids is to have open dialogue with your ex, you loved this man at one time and you have two kids together and quite a few more years left I might add. Ask your ex in non accusatory manner if he thinks the 5 year old is a danger to your son, work with him, please. Once again you chose to have children with this man, he is their father, he must love the kids too or else he wouldn't be going through all the work to see them. Attorney's should not be involved in family matters, I guess our society tends to be adversarial which is so sad for the kids. Give this a chance, can you talk to his wife at all? Kids pay close attention to everything that is happening and will follow parents cues and attitudes, so demonstrate adult mature behavior. I know how hard this can be, I have a step son so I am familiar with these problems. Good luck to you and if you are religious say lots of prayers for your son and daughter!

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S.T.

answers from Denver on

I wonder if Child Protective Services could give you some direction. Also, you might want to call the Women's Crisis Center and Family Outreach line for more info. They are a great resource too. I'm also an Independent Associate for Pre-Paid Legal Services which is a great resource for getting your questions answered without worrying about additional charges (plus so much more). I'd be happy to email you more info if you like too. [email protected]____.com Good luck on a tough situation.

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L.S.

answers from Denver on

Hi C.,
Yikes, I'm sorry that you are going through this. Sounds like you have a good guy now, so I'm glad that you got rid of that other one.
Your son is depending on you to advocate for him. He won't be able to defend himself adequately. Plus, your ex is a jack$%# if he #1-doesn't really know what happened to him and #2 does know, and is lying about it. You have to be strong here b/c you are his mom and he needs you to keep him safe. I would call the police...ultimately, if your son isn't safe, he's not obligated to be with your ex. Your attorney sounds very apathetic...why wouldn't she recommend that you call the police!?!
Good luck rescuing your baby. I know he's 8, but he'll always be your baby. (That's how I feel about my three children.)
L.

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