Question of Custody Rights

Updated on November 12, 2008
M.J. asks from Carlsbad, CA
41 answers

I am preparing myself mentally for divorcing my husband in the near future. What I haven't done yet is talk to a lawyer or my husband of my intentions. Without getting into the details of the reasons for my divorce, my big big concern that I get ill over is that with a 50/50 custody of my 2 1/2 year old...is it possible to have restrictions on who can watch her and who can't while in his care? The reason for my asking is that I am seriously afraid of what my mother-in-law could do or might do should she have any alone time with my daughter (due to her past history). And please know that it isn’t a personal issue between us it is truly that she is untrustworthy, negligent, and both a pill-popper and drinker (just to name a few).

As it stands now, my husband and I both agree that she isn't to have unsupervised time her our daughter but I'm afraid that if I'm not around anymore he would cave in to his mom and let her watch our little girl. Has anyone had any similar situations and if so how did it get resolved?

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P.M.

answers from Los Angeles on

Yes it is possible to have restrictions on who can watch her and who can't while in the care of either parent. I would suggest you get a good lawyer to assist you in this matter.

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C.E.

answers from Los Angeles on

The only way to have control over your daughter is to stay married. You have to decide what is more important - your daughter or your desire to be single.

If you choose to divorce, your daughter will have to deal with a "new mommy" some day. Of course, this "new mommy" won't love her or care for her like you do.

I know - my X moved in with his girlfriend when my daughter was 3. My daughter is 14 and still is full of anger over the "new mommy".

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M.L.

answers from San Diego on

Yes, when you go to court you can request that if he needs a "babysitter" while he has time with his daughter, that he ask you first and give you the opportunity to say yes or no. However, it is hard to enforce. I had a similar issue when I got divorced with my mother in law and she had been convicted of drug offenses, however she had never actually caused injury to my daughter, so they did not consider that a good reason to restrict her access to my daughter. If you can peacefully go through the process, and when you get to mediation where you sit down with your husband and a court representative (they make everyone do this) then you will discuss these items and they will be included in the recommendation to the courts. Do yourself a favor and make a list of what you want. ie: holidays, birthdays, babysitting, mother in law issues, housing/bedding needs (child should have own bed), days of the week you prefer to divide up, etc. Good luck. Divorce is very hard, but if necessary then worth it. I've been through hell, but am now very happy and know I did the right thing for my daughter and myself.

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C.C.

answers from Los Angeles on

I've been there--almost exactly there. In the state of CA, you're right, custody will likely be 50-50. I had to fight like hell for two years to get 65%, and my ex is abusive and has a criminal record. I'm perfectly normal. :) Unless your ex agrees to a stipulation, your chances of getting anything about your mother-in-law written into a custody agreement are just about zero. That's a tough thing to write and hear, but it's reality in California.

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B.P.

answers from Los Angeles on

Dear M.,
I am sorry you are having to make such a difficult decision. I have been there.

First, you need to today start a journal and document everything including visits and calls from/to with his mother. But just as important, start writing down important facts which you believe will be important. I don't know your situation, for me, I started writing down when my spouse left for work and returned, since he was self-employed, traveled a lot and got to where he was hardly every home (turned out he was having an affair and charging lots of debt for them knowing he was going to file for divorce and we would both have to equally pay this debt). Keep track of all credit card charges. Having a daily log of activities will be useful if there is an issue of him racking up debt unnecessarily. Same for bank accounts. Keep track of your activities also as it may come up during divorce such as documenting that you have been the exclusive care giver for your daughter.

After getting the basics down with an attorney and if you decide you must divorce consider that the court system is an adversarial process and run by judges and lawyers. The legal system is the worst place for a family because it has nothing to do with emotions and compromise. Lawyers make there money by billable hours. Many states as actually moving to a mediation setting for divorce because of this.

If at all possible, use a mediator or family resolution specialist. I am seeing more professionals offering a combined set of lawyers, mediator and family counselors to resolve divorce faster and more kindly. Divorce is devastating, even when you are the one leaving. A mediator can work on a more personable and equitable level. The judges want to clear their calender and don't know your family. You and your husband are much more likely to come to agreements on issues, and especially regarding your daughter, this way. Don't assume your husband will have to pay your legal fees. I was a stay-at-home mom my entire marriage and the judge ordered each of us to pay our own fees. I had no job and my spouse had a substantial income.

Second, you need to talk to an attorney to understand all that you need to be aware of before divorce papers get filed. There are many great attorneys that will meet for free, even over the phone so you don't have to get a sitter or bring your daughter. Just make sure there is no trace back to your phone. or email. Talk to several because each attorney has a different approach. Do not let your husband know. If you don't have much money or assets to sell you can qualify for free legal representation or aid. It will cost you nothing to talk to attorneys and you'll get valuable information, but once deciding to file for divorce fees escalate quickly.

I have recently gone through a 3 1/2 divorce with 3 kids. I was a stay-at-home mom 19 years with no outside income. Financial realities of divorce are hard. I have witnessed your issue in the courtroom during the many times I waited from my own hearing. You cannot control who is with your daughter while she is with your husband. Unless you can prove with acceptable evidence that the grandmother is unfit or you and your husband both agree in writing, your husband can do what he wants with regards to anyone being around your daughter. An attorney can advise. Evidence would be DUI or other police record showing a specific behavior which would endanger your daughter. Grandparent's rights apply more strongly when a grandparent has been a strong caretaker in the child's life and will cost her money to go to court and get rights if your husband won't allow her to see your daughter. Seems that she'll be able to see your daughter when she's with her dad. If your husband agrees now that his mom needs supervision around your daughter, perhaps he will maintain this after divorce. Important to always let the court know that you are encouraging the relationship with the grandmother and only have concerns and want supervision in place during visits. Never appear to be blocking access to your daughter.

As the stay-at-home mom, the court will almost certainly grant temporary custody to you initially because it is always what's in the best interest of the child. Especially with such a young child, the court would not want to change her situation right now. You can't predict how your husband will behave if your file for divorce so don't assume you will only get 50-50 time share. Often it's 80 - 20.

You need to know that child support is based on time-share and each parent's income. If you have 50-50, there will most likely be no child support. The law in Ca. also states that each parent is to provide financially for their child so you will be expected to contribute to your child, which is factored into support. Child support can be reduced, even temporarily, if your spouse gets a lower paying job, more time share, or become unemployed or on disability.

Also know that spousal support isn't automatically ordered. I was a full-time mom for 19 years and the court ordered support to be paid at $0. If you google CA family code you will find the laws that govern divorce such as child custody, visitation and support.

You should start a separate checking account and credit card in your name only. Also start making copies of important documents such as income tax returns, checking accounts, social security cards. The court holds both spouses responsible for marital debt up to the date of separation. This includes car loans and leases and possibly after date of filing. The judge ordered me to pay over $1,000 on my ex's mercedes lease even though he remarried shortly into our divorce and he and his new spouse drove the car 18 months before defaulting. The judge stated it was because the lease was signed while my ex and I were married (my name was never even on the lease and I never drove the car).

Also, you need to always read all documents from both attorneys. Attorney make mistakes on documents and sometimes miss deadlines. Judges make mistakes also. You will both be required to meet with a family court facilitator before your first hearing. Be sure your attorney files for child and spousal support from the start because the judge can only go back to the date this items were filed in ordering support.

Only you can decide what is right for you. Your daughter will thrive in a loving and stable home. Start making a plan for your future, start looking to how you are going to support yourself, don't let your husband know what you're planning because it can work against you and you need time to prepare. Make sure you fully understand date of separation as it relates to debt, leases, taxes and income so you can plan for what protects you best. And finally, if possible, take time to sit in at the courthouse you would use to (if you don't use a mediator) and listen to some of the issues and decisions the judge makes. You may even hear your own issue come up. This is invaluable.

I truly hope this helps. I know the feeling of wanting to protect you child and still have that concern regarding my youngest child and his grandparents.

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B.R.

answers from Los Angeles on

Have you considered going to counseling with your husband? Divorce may seem like the "easy way out," but in the end your little girl will suffer dearly. Don't kid yourself in thinking you will be able to control her life when she is with your (ex) husband. Not only will you have NO control, you are also making your MIL as a primary example and influence on your child. Your husband will lean on his mother for support and help... do you really want to do this???

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J.M.

answers from Las Vegas on

If I were you I would just have physical custody of your daughter because she is so young. I almost went 50/50 with my husband and that would have ruined my kids lives. My amicable divorce turned violent and now I have a permanent protective order. He did try and take the kids from me and thank heavens I had the custody order in place. You don't know how their decisions will change when as you said, you are not around.Good luck.

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T.A.

answers from San Diego on

I would file for sole custody if I were you and divorce. Unless you can prove to the court your husband is harmful to your daughter he will get visitation. The only way for you to get your daughter to yourself is You prove to the court that you took care of your daughter the whole time.

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J.B.

answers from Los Angeles on

I'm sorry about this situation concerning you divorcing your husband. I went through a similar issue except I'm the step mom. I married a man with 2 children a 11 yr old and a 3 yr old. After being married for a year the biological mom came back into the picture and wanted to visit with the children (which wasn't a problem for me at the time). She abandoned the children due to issues with drugs and alcohol. After a few visits our daughters (particularly our 3 yr old) came back scared not wanting to go back. As time went on we found out that the boyfriend of the mom was to hurting our daughter (particularly our 3 yr old) in ways that traumatized her. We fought it out in court to have the boyfriend restrained and would only allow the children to visit mom with the basis that the children could not be left alone with anybody except mom due to the issues with boyfriend and other members of the family. Don't let anyone tell you different. If you feel a red flag going up its for a reason. All I can say is watch out for signs that are out of the normal for your child. Our children are precious and we need to protect their innocence. If possible and your comfortable with it ask for Full Physical custody (or joint legal meaning you both have rights to her but specify you want her living with you at all times) and give dad visitation rights with other people restrained from being left alone with her due to your concern for her safety. Whatever happens don't be afraid to speak up no matter how bad it may get because in the end all that's going to matter is your daughter being safe. I really hope this helps. If you have any other questions please feel free to contact me. I like being able to help people especially since I have gone through an issue like this. May God bless you and help you. Don't forget to write everything down from things that are said and done to dates and times. A judge doesn't want to hear words he wants to see it in black and white (documentation). Also make sure to get anything you and your spouse agree on notarized this will help cover you. Even if the grandparents have rights in our particular situation the grandparents were also ordered not to be alone with our daughter (due to their background of alcohol, domestic violence, etc.). Make sure to always take photos of things you think may help you like if you find drug paraphernalia, etc. or liquor bottles in reach of your child
(which is not acceptable to have around children).

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S.M.

answers from Las Vegas on

I am not a lawyer nor do I know if you can legally keep your child away from her negligent grandma. BUT I have just gone through preparing myself for a divorce. This is what I did wrong... Go see a lawyer NOW. Most are free and will help you prepare. Do not tell your husband or he will prepare against you. Make sure when you leave if you do not divorce right away you file legal seperation papers or you will not legally get child support. Because your child is so young, fight to have her more than 50/50. It is too hard for my 3 year old and 6 year old to go one week with me and one week with their dad. They need stability and I screwed up. As soon as you leave open your own checking account and make sure you save a little money now. Also the sooner you leave the better. My son has the worst time with us divorcing because he was older and still remembers us being a family, my daughter could care less but can only handle being with her dad about 4 days and then begs to be with me. I'm lucky because I know he can't handle it and lets me pick her up. One thing we did promise each other was that if we needed a sitter, we would ask each other first before we asked anyone else. With this I get to see my kids a lot more often.

Good luck and best wishes, be strong and remember your children deserve to know what a loving happy family life is like. They learn from you.

Stephanie

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C.S.

answers from San Diego on

Dear M.,
Oh My GOD YES!! Not only can you impose these restrictions,
I suggest YOU be the one to get the Attorney FIRST!! It DOES make a big difference!! My Ex was a big drinker, and had I
known what I know now, I would have been "The First to File!!"
My Dear M., Please hear what I am not saying as well as saying!! This process took me 9 court dates, and almost 2 full years !! It wasd a complete HELL trip!!
I would be glad to answer any more questions you may have.
You can contact me directly at: [email protected]____.com
Good Luck, and keep hold of your precious Daughter TIGHT!!
C. S.

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B.M.

answers from Los Angeles on

Dear M.,

My understanding is that his time is his time - and you have no control over that. But I do wonder if you could have it stated in your papers that she is only allowed supervised visitation. However, I don't know how you could have this enforced - you would have to know that she was taking care of your daughter in order to report it and have the police respond. Call Elizabeth Courtney on Central Avenue. (She was not my lawyer, and I am sorry) One of the things I was told about her was that she cares about the kids. I paid $100 for a consult with her, so it won't be free. The other lawyer I would recommend is Pamela Stettner, she was my husband's lawyer (I think she was in the Glendora or Azusa area). I won't recommend my lawyer - he was an idiot. Try calling one of these ladies (I'm sorry I don't have their numbers to give you, but you should be able to look them up or call information) to find out what the possibilities and legalities are of limiting who the caregivers are during and after the divorce . . .

This is such a difficult and scary decision - best wishes!
B.

As I started scrolling through the other responses, I see women telling you to stay because you have more control while you live with your husband. I want to say that that is one reason my ex stayed in my house as long as he did - HOWEVER I also want to say that now I have to sorry about what my children learned from observing our dysfunctional and hostile relationship - how my son learned to treat women and how my girls learned to allow themselves to be treated. AND there is some residual anger towards me how he treated them while he continued to live here (he did not physically beat them, but he emotionally beat them up and manipulated all of us) - So just remember there is a trade off if you keep him in your house to maintain some control. - We all have to make our own decisions to do what we think is best in our situation and for what will be best for the children - I can tell you my decisions would have been different and would have been made quicker if I hadn't had children to consider! I also want to say that if you two cannot be cordial to each other, remember your daughter is watching and learning - AND that what happens between the two of you can be very scary to a little girl!

Again, good luck and best wishes!

I have not read all the responses, but I will say that B. P gives EXCELLENT advice!

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L.M.

answers from Los Angeles on

M. ~ Something you may want to consider is requesting a "right of first refusal" clause in your custody papers. What this means is that if your husband is doing something that requires him to get a sitter, he would need to call you and ask you if you were available to watch your daughter before he called anyone else. If you say no, then he starts looking to others but as long as you say yes, your daughter is not to be left with anyone but you.

Also, when you do discuss divorce with your husband, include in your conversation the topic of an agreeable daycare provider (I assume you loose the luxury of being a stay at home mom once you are divorced) If your husband can financially maintain two households and you don't have to work then you should and most probably would be the daycare provider for your daughter, even on a 50/50 split.

You should (as the other ladies have advised) document eveything. Just keep a calendar of things you notice or that happen. It sounds like you and your husband maintain some sort of a relationship with your MIL and that your daughter is not left alone with her now. If that is the case, this should not change.

Grandparents do have rights but no more than ususal. Grandparents are an extremely important part of every child's life and should be included when possible. Divorce is a very difficult thing and hard on everyone. It is not just you and your husband who will be affected by a divorce. And the affects last a lifetime. The Court wants to make it as easy on the kids as possible when considering custody and visitation. No one is perfect and even the court system makes mistakes but if you have all your ducks in a row, (documentation) you can feel you did everything by making sure everyone is "informed".

Definitely see a lawyer in your area. I would suggest a "family law specialist" and see him/her on a consultation. Call the lawyer referral service in your area (through the State Bar Association) and ask them for a referral. Normally the charge for the consultation is $25 - $50; but without the referral of the Lawyer Referral Service you would pay a consultation fee of whatever the hourly rate is and for a specialist that would be a lot. Don't be discouraged by the fees either. You can have your lawyer request (if you do file for divorce) that your husband pay attorney's fees.

Sorry this is so long but I felt I had some helpful information to share. Good luck. I hope all works out well for you and your family.

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M.E.

answers from San Diego on

Hi M.:
I'm in the same situation, and the only thing I can tell you is that divorce with 50/50 is very stressful situation for a little girl. You can ask to the court for 80/20 it mean he can have the girl every other weekend and probably Wednesday night only (6pm to 8 am). The girl needs you a lot. Regarding restrictions you can mention it to the judge but you have to say to him anything that is not good sample for your litle girl.

MC

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K.F.

answers from Las Vegas on

Hello M., I am not divorced and do not know your state's laws but first of all you need some serious legal advice. I do have friends however in same situations and this is one thing that one of my friend suggests. Get a lawyer first and immediately ask for "mediation". That means that NO decision can be made without both party's consent. That may help you with your concerns about your (soon to be ex) Mother-In-Law. Just make sure you get SOUND legal advice and go with that, always getting advice from "others" may not be the best choice as most people go on experience rather than pure education. Good luck to you and continue to be a commited parent along with her Father to your child!

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S.T.

answers from San Diego on

I have not really had too much experience with this but I know how gut wrenching custody battles are. I am separated after 12 years and due to his behavior there were not too many issues. He himself is not trustworthy. Most women I know have custody with the fathers having certain days to visit. It is easier if you and your husband come to an agreement your selfs. I will be wishing the best for you, it is so hared especially in the beginning, I used to cry on his days, never in front of her, but it really ripped me up inside when she went away with him, then out if the blue she refused to see him unless I was there. Anyway, If you ever need an ear for any reason feel free to write to me. All my thoughts and prayers, Shan

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J.M.

answers from Los Angeles on

Hi M., I went through the same thing around 15 yrs. ago with my son. Luckily I had a great lawyer and we were able to stipulate in the custody paperwork that "AT NO TIME SHOULD MINOR CHILD BE LEFT ALONE WITH PATERNAL GRANDPARENTS". My inlaws grew and smoked pot in their home. My ex agreed to it, because he did not want to jeopordize his visitation. We also stated that if it were found that my son was left alone with grandparents his father would lose visitation rights. I know it sounds harsh, but the safety of your daughter and you piece of mind in worth it! Good Luck!

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E.F.

answers from Visalia on

M.,

If your little girl is truly everything, please, please do not go through with a divorce. Children are devastated by divorce, no matter how old they are at the time it occurs.
Talk with your husband and work things out. Maturity is learning to face problems head-on and come up with workable solutions, not bail out at the first sign of trouble. Communication is so important.
Trust me, if you go through with this you'll regret it the rest of your life. Do the unselfish thing for your precious daughter's sake.
E.

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J.B.

answers from Los Angeles on

with his mom when you got to court you reguest that she can only have supervised visitation for those reasons. thats a dangerous situation your daughter to be put in what if she gets ahold of a pill or alcohol?? if the court finds out that the dad went against a rulling like that he will be labled unfit and will loose his joint custody. i really hope that you guys can fully agree on it and that he holds up his end of the deal. good luck!

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J.M.

answers from Los Angeles on

Hi M.,

If you plan to follow through with a separation or divorce, I would recommend that you have a consultation with a lawyer first. Many offer a free consultation and some a reduced rate.

The courts do allow restrictions on who can spend time with the children. With this being the grandmother it's a little more difficult. It would be simpler if any of her "issues" have been legally documented.

I hope that divorce is not necessary in your case. If you've never divorced with children before, it would be difficult for you to realize the full impact on their lives and yours. Family functions and holidays are never the same. I hope you seek wise counsel before filing for divorce.

God bless,
J.

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T.R.

answers from Los Angeles on

First of all, if you are a SAHM, why are you preparing yourself for 50/50 custody? That is not usually the outcome (unless it is what you want) in your type of situation. The primary caregiver would normally receive primary custody and the other parent would receive visitation. I believe the terms would be physical custody to you - and legal custody would be 50/50 - meaning he is a parent and would have a say so in legal issues (medical care, schooling, etc..). That way your worries would be for his visitation times (every other weekend or the like). As far as I know, a lawyer can advise you much better, they can attempt to have a judge rule that your child cannot be left alone with someone of questionable judgment, but...it would be something that hopefully, you and your husband could agree on amicably. As an aside, have you tried couples counseling? Saving your marriage could be the best thing you have ever done and it is a worthy cause. You loved him once and created your beautiful child - do you think you could again? If you belong to a church/or know of a good one around, they should have very good pastors who can counsel you two [usually for free]. Good luck and God Bless You!

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R.T.

answers from Los Angeles on

From my experience.... When the child is in his care he can have whoever watch her/him. There would need to be records showing her issues (rehabs,criminal, etc). Unfortunetly when you get a divorce and there is 50/50 you LOSE any say on any issues during his time! Good Luck!

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V.A.

answers from Santa Barbara on

M.,

I'm sorry about your distressing time right now. You definitely need to see an attorney. I imagine restrictions can be placed on visitation but that doesn't mean they'll be followed. It'll be very important that your husband understands the gravity of what might happen if his mother is alone with your child. If possible, let your husband know that you'll step in somehow if he's in a bind and needs your baby watched while he has visitation. On another note, studies have shown that the worst outcome for children in a divorce occurs when the parents fight with each other so, whatever you do, keep it civil.

V.

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C.C.

answers from Los Angeles on

I am sure that if you give your concerns to the judge when you go to court, they will be honored. Personally, I would ask that the grandmother would have supervised visitation with your child, that way it does not appear that you are trying to alienate your child from her.
As far as divorce goes, made it very clear what you want at your initial hearing. Any subsequent hearing is expensive and you have to have urgent reasons to make any changes to judgements. My current husband's son lives with his mother and her husband that has been arrested for domestic violence. We just learned about it and took them back to court. Very little visitation changed after informing the judge of our concerns. Please have as much evidence as you can when you go to court for the first time. Have a good day and good luck.

C.C.

answers from Visalia on

document everything, if motherinlaw has a history.

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A.B.

answers from San Diego on

The easiest asnwer to your problem is to stay married, to think of your daughter's needs and not your own. If you are home with her, no one else will watch her but you. If you choose to become a 50%-time parent, then you take a big risk. A

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S.S.

answers from Los Angeles on

Attorneys will typically offer your 1st consultation for free. if you're not sure, ask them. This is for the benefit of the client to test out attorneys to see if you like one or not, or feel that one will do a good job on your behalf.

Here is a Pasadena Attorney I know who is young and very nice. So, he should definitely offer you a first consult for free. He also tries to help with divorces trying to avoid litigation (you'll save so much money).

Michael C. Cotugno, Attorney-at-Law
###-###-####
[email protected]____.com

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G.Z.

answers from San Diego on

Unfortunately, at least in my experience, you don't. The ony way you could put a restriction on who takes care of her underhis care is by shoing cause to the judge or by your husband & yurself putting it IN WRITING on your custodial agreement. My ex & I have a clause where any time to be spent away over two hours, tthe other parent has the right of first refusal. The way the mediator explained it to me is that he is the father & if he deems it appropriate to leave her wth somebody else he can. Fortunately, we made the 2 hr clause. However, I can 90% assure you he's been breaking it. Divorce is hard and the custody battle is the worst. Especially hashing out all the details and it is only going to be harder if you thik he's going to be upset at you. Mine was with me and actuallly admitted to me he lied in court (which I kne) because he was mad at me & wanted things his way.

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M.Z.

answers from Reno on

That would be something you need to prove or if your husband agrees, have it put into the custody order.

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S.L.

answers from Los Angeles on

start w/a paper trail. write down everything, even personal journals. think of what you'd want the judge to read and hear. build a case for why you don't want your daughter around this person.

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E.L.

answers from Los Angeles on

Hi M., I stumbled upon your question this morning, and want you to know for peace of mind, that your mother in law could be court ordered to be supervised while she is with your daughter. I am a professional monitor, and unfortunately, deal with this type of situation all the time. ( we monitor grandparents, siblings, aunts/uncles etc. while they are visiting with the children, Oh, I say unfortunately because it saddens me that there are such negligent people out there). I am registered with L.A. and Ventura County Courts. My company's name is Caring Hearts Agency. If you have any questions, or want more info, please feel free to call me, ###-###-####, or my associate, Marie Fisher, ###-###-####. I have four children of my own, and I know what you mean by saying your child is everything! Good Luck!

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M.B.

answers from Reno on

I'm not sure how it works in CA but I went through a custody case in NV. My main concern was the new stepmom (and the catalyst for a custody case 7 years after the fact) she showed serious symptoms of Munchausen and Munchausen byproxy as well as personality disorders. Her own mother and sister were willing to testify on my behalf and I only had met them after they initiated the custody case. Although after she had been to court with him once and never came back (on his lawyer's advice) and even though his lawyer, my lawyer and the judge acknowledged both on and off the record that she was nuts, I could not get the court to order a psychological evaluation, nor could I limit my son's exposure to her.
I did get "right of first refusal" in my court orders but that only worked for the most part with longterm care at a daycare facility where I could prove he had been enrolled. He was left alone in her care several times and since the right of first refusal only came into play after two hours, to avoid it, she would drive my son to his dads work to hang out for 15 minutes...legally speaking, where the two hours would start over again.
On his side of things though, he tried to control what occured in my household by putting things in the order about "not being allowed to play outside without an adult" like riding his bike around our cul de sac with his friends etc. and to give a court ordered limit on computer time at our house (he rarely used the computer here anyway but it was just something that they could say they controlled) things like not being able to dye his hair any color until he's 15, etc etc. Some of their micromanaging requests they got (like the hair dying) and some they didn't.
Basically though, I could not control things that really mattered (like his safety being left alone with a clearly disturbed woman) but they were able to control little things in his life. I do know since I just had this conversation with someone, that California has very strong "grandparental rights" laws so unless you both agree to it ahead of time you may very well have a difficult time enforcing it after the fact.
I wish you the best of luck. My choice is never having to go through a custody case at all. It's ugly and vicious and no matter how nice and cooperative you think it might go, it usually doesn't.
My best suggestion is shop around for a great lawyer (and get a few referrals) who will be there to follow through with orders, subpeonas and answer their phone when you really need them. :)

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C.S.

answers from Las Vegas on

Hi M.,
Jennifer is right and she gives you good advice. My niece's grandparents won a grandparents right battle and the court ordered it mandatory that my niece be available for a phone call evrey Sunday at 6 p.m. and everyother Sunday she had to go visit him, despite my sisters claims that he had a drinking problem. Make sure document everything good and be prepared beforehand.

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S.B.

answers from Honolulu on

Hello I am going thur a divorce myself and have a three year old girl. I am seeking full custdoy. Here is what I think you should do get a lawyer ask them questions about visition rights and what are the laws in your state. Then take in to effect what this all will mean to you and your child. How long are you willing to wait for a divorce? It seems to me you are still thinking about it all. Here is a book I have read and think it might help you. Look it up and maybe you might read it, "The Five Love Languages How to express Heartfelt Commitment to your Mate" by: Dr. Gary Chapman. Going thur a divorce is very hard on you and a child so make sure you get all your information before you do anything. I will keep you in my prayers.....

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T.N.

answers from Santa Barbara on

M.-
I am a stepmon of a boy who was 8 months old when his parents separated. His father had 50-50 custody of his son from the start. When I came into the picture our son was 2. At that time there were some ill feelings and arguing about who could watch our son when he wasn't with a parent. What we came to realize is that each parent takes full responsibility for the child when they have them as well as the choices they make about who might care for the child if they themselves cannot. The other parent needs to accept that when the child is not in their direct care they cannot control a situation. That said, if both parents remember to always focus on the needs of their child and what is best for them, you should always be able to negotiate a reasonable and safe solution to anything including childcare in the absence of a parent. Remember that this is your childs father who loves them and who would never intentionally put their child in harms way.

Six years later our extended family is in a great place and we owe it all to a lack of ego, open communication, negotiation and meeting in the middle when there is conflict. Teaching your child how to work through difficult times to come to a happy place sets them up better for life than saying "and they lived happily ever after".

You have a bumpy road ahead of you. At the same time if you and your childs father can focus on the fact that every child needs parents that get along, married or not and that parenting a child is a partnership between mother and father you should be able get through the bumpy times and land in a place that creates a healthy environment for your daughter and ensures that together you raise a happy well adjusted child.

T.

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J.C.

answers from San Diego on

I am not in your situation, however I have seen enough divorce cases and custody battles to know that there are such things as grandparent rights. Believe it or not! Now since you have stated that she does drugs and drinks and would be an unfit baby-sitter of your daughter, then you do have the right to put into the orders. But be aware that if your MIL has any idea that she has these rights she might try to persuade her son just as you suspect and if the court doesn't see her as what you have said then your order will be overthrown. DOCUMENT everything that you and your soon-to-be-ex spouse have agreed upon about her and if you can recall any specific dates and information that will substantiate your claims against her get that on paper now so when you see your lawyer you will have some written information for him. Good luck to you! :)

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H.W.

answers from Reno on

Hi M.,

You can state who can care for your child while she in either of your care. Also you can have a "first right of refusal" which means while she is in your husbands care he must first give you the option to watch her before he chooses another person. This would hold true for you as well if you have that clause.

I hope things go smoothly,
H.

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C.J.

answers from Honolulu on

Well, I don't know if you are a believer or not, but one thing I do know is that there is nothing that is to big for God to handle not one thing in this world. So if any part of your being wants to stay with your husband and avoid devorce, I would seriously get on my knees and simply ask God for a clear path to your future. But praying is not enough, you need to have faith as well. Put your faith to work, and let God pay you.

From: someone who has been there.

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A.B.

answers from Reno on

I know that having shared custody can be very difficult on both of you. I would hope that your husband would care about his daughter enough to be firm in his conviction not to leave your daughter with his mother (even if you're not married anymore). I have had some similar problems with this in my family. When my first boy was brand new (a couple of months) we lived in the basement apartment of my in-laws home. They have a son with some severe mental problems and we requested that he never be left alone with my newborn. It wasn't 5 minutes after I left for a doctor appointment when I returned (left my purse on their kitchen table) and my MIL had left my baby with her disabled son while she went outside to do some yard work. I was so angry, but the only thing I could do was to take the baby to the appointment with me and have my husband express his displeasure strongly. Since then, my husband and I agree that we don't leave our children with someone who won't care for them properly.
I believe that when you get the divorce and custody issues settled, you can have the courts add a stipulation that your MIL has no unsupervised contact with your child. The husband would either agree to this (in writing) or you could go to the courts to force the issue (with evidence of her undesirable behavior). Again, your husband would be the person who would most likely be supervising (or not) these visits, but if it's in the court papers and he allows her to watch your child unsupervised, you could have his custody revoked.

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K.R.

answers from San Diego on

My sister is going through a divorce...but, in TN. I know she is working on stipulations...there would be no way to know if she had sole supervision over your daughter even if it's in the divorce papers...would he tell you? or, is she talking enough to tell you who watched her all day? I am sure depending on the circumstances of the divorce anything is possible...

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D.M.

answers from San Diego on

This might sound weird, but in the best interests of your child, you might want to put the divorce off until your child can communicate good with you, then that way she can tell you whether or not the MIL was taking care of her. I would put my child first before anything else, and I would be scared to death to have her with a woman like that, so do whatever it takes to keep your daughter away, maybe even just separate from your husband until your daughter is older.

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