Friday, August 27, 2010

Protecting your kids vs. Adhering to your custody agreement

I could not possibly imagine a situation that protecting your children would be at odds with what's in your custody agreement.  Until you hear this story you most likely have never heard of any parent feeling compelled to having to choose.  Make no mistake in thinking that this choice comes easily, since violations of custody agreements can be met with jail time and potential loss of custody longer term.

The story:
One day this father picks up his two children from their Montessori school, everything seemed normal.  After snacks at home and proceeding with a quick diaper change, the father notices that his daughter is extremely red in the diaper region.  As this father processes his experience on diaper rashes and not recognizing this as any past rash, his daughter teary eyed says "Name" hurt me.  Almost on Que the older brother chimes in that the same specific person put his hands down there.  A hurricane of emotions from fear to rage swept over this father and he quickly put a fresh diaper and dressed his little girl.  All the while trying to hide his panic, this father decided to take this daughter across the street to a family friend and mother of five children, asking her to look at this "rash".  This mother confirmed that she had not seen a diaper rash like that in all her 15 years of mothering.  The father calls his ex and children's mom to inquire as to whom this person is, only to be hung up on.  Shortly the ex calls back and says it's the name of another child in the Montessori.  An awkward minor relief washes over the dad that the perpetrator in question was not an adult.  Another call to a mom, family friend, and attorney on what on earth does this father do led to the conclusion to take the children the family pediatrician.  Luckily this pediatric group has a doctor who specializes in this situation and she declares everything looks just fine.  This doctor did add in that children of this age may have the time, person, or place wrong.  However, a cry for help does mean that something happened and this needs to be addressed.  This father contacts the Montessori school about the situation, only to be told that nothing happened and to be called a liar and that the his two children are lying.  What would you do?  The mother of the two children loves the Montessori and the owner of the school is a close friend of the mom's side of the family, as this father understands.  Mom insists the children go back, much to the dismay of both the father and the two children.

Violation of the custody agreement number 1: After this dad, who has the ability to work from home, offers to watch the children until another Montessori can be found the mother insists they go there.  She picks the kids up on her day of the custody agreement and takes them to this Montessori.  Upon hearing that mom did in fact take them to the Montessori, the father immediately goes to the school and without speaking walks in and picks up both children and takes them home.  Violating the custody agreement.  Needless to say Mom calls the police who come to the father's house and after a bit of discussion, both the officers ask the mother why on earth she would insist on taking the children to that Montessori.  The officers shake the father's hand as they leave for the day.

After a second claim by this father's daughter by yet another student at the Montessori inappropriately "touching", the father feels like the worse father in the world for not pushing this matter further with all entities.  A call to Child Protective Services who's first statement to the father was that we can throw you in jail for not reporting this immediately.  The father just as quickly responds with fine throw me in jail, just help my children.  The CPS investigation yields the same results as the pediatric doctor.  The daughter looks ok, but children at this age don't make outburst like this for no reason.  To this father's dismay and after countless pleadings with the mother to move the children, the mother files custody papers and the legal battle ensues.

Violation of the custody agreement number 2:  The father refuses to pay child support, all the while contacting the Attorney General and making sure all contact information is current and notifying them of the situation at hand.  Each refusal of payment, twice monthly, carries a maximum sentence of 179 days in jail.  The violations continue until the attorney general finally starts garnishing the fathers wages for the child support many months later.  The father knew the gamble and the potential for jail, but his willingness to go to jail in order to try and force both legally and financially his ex to remove the children from the Montessori school was worth it.

Both children who showed numerous withdrawal signs, learning issues, and speech issues finally move into public school.  Since leaving the Montessori both children have recovered to straight A's and advanced classes.  Then the motion for enforcement case comes from the ex (mom) asking this father to be put in jail, "Criminal Contempt", for each violation.  Strangely this father is at peace and while he did not get his children out of the Montessori school in as timely a manner as he would have wished, several important things happened.  His children knew and know full well that their father is fighting for them.  The Montessori was on pins and needles and both students in question "conveniently" were removed from the Montessori for "unrelated" issues and no other outburst on the subject were made again by either of this father's children.

Now that the case has been settled and the father did not go to jail, the father reflects back on this time.  "I was and I am willing to go to jail and I would do so happily for my children".  While being in jail would create other issues for his children, this father is willing to do everything possible to try and protect his children.  Regardless of what a custody agreement states, but this father like many never could have imagined a situation that he would have to choose.

Would you follow your agreement or protect your children if faced with the choice?


1 comment:

  1. Thankfully, I have a good ex. I don't think we would ever really have a situation like this. Sure, there have been times that my children's mental state and emotional needs haven't been met and that bothers me. There are times that I just want to keep them and not let them go back with their grandparents. But, I haven't because the genuinely love my boys and want the best for them. We don't agree on how many things but they are not bad people.

    Looking at this particular situation, I would've done the same thing as the father. Maybe taken the child to the ER right away and filed a police report too, but it looks like this dad, did the right thing. I think he's an awesome father. The mother is quite stupid.


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