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custody question

globetrotter

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ok, here is the deal - my wife's friend is in a custody battle that is really, really ugly. because I am around and competent, I am the one she comes to for advice. I don't want to fuck up anybody's life, but I don't know a lot about this.

to complicate things - two lesbians. the birth mother has custody, the other woman (they were together 20 plus years) legally adopted the kid, and was the primary caregiver for the kids first 7 years. the birth mother cheated on the other one with the mother of the kids friend (breaking up her marriage) and then the other woman moved in with the birth mother.

the basic idea of the birth mother has been, from the start, to simply cut the other "mother" out of the kids life. she has offered her money to sign away parental rights, and has really played dirty, trying to grind her down.

my friend has been fighting hard for time with the kid. now the kid is 9, and is saying he wants to spend less time with the other mother.

my origional take was - it is better for the kid to have two parents in his life, and to know that two parents love him, so no matter what he wants, the other mother needs to fight to spend time with him,

I am starting to re-think that - maybe spending 2 afternoons a week is better than fighting the kid for more time, when the kid wants to spend more time with his friends/activities etc.

I think that the birth mother is munipulating the kid, but I am not sure what the best path is, and I am being asked for an opinion.


any suggestions?
 

Douglas

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Ugh, I have no fucking idea, but this sounds terrible.

I do have a friend who was married and had a daughter with a crazy-ass woman. Of course I don't know the other side of the story but this fella was in the service, married a chick I guess he thought he loved on a pretty quick timetable and then was back on a submarine, and she turned out to nuts. He's a sane enough, reasonable, well-employed individual so I'm inclined to believe, at least mostly, his side of the story.

Mother refused to give him any rights when they divorced. He won court battle after court battle for increased visitation rights, but she lived out-of-state and would simply refuse to show up at appointed, err, "handover" times. She would not be home when he was scheduled to pick up his daughter, and as he had driven several hours to be there, could not just swing by later. This happened many many times, and she was supposedly dressed down by judge after judge, at which point she would find a way to move things to a new judge and start the process over, until the new judge came to realize she was working the system - at which point she would find a new one. Not sure how it all works but in the end, he'd sometimes get visits but they'd have to send a sherriff with him to actually be able to get the child.

According to him (and others I've read about), the system places such a high premium on the rights of the birth mother that they can get away with just about anything. And if they know how to work the system, it goes double.

Anyways, it appeared he had finally won out and was going to get custody for an entire summer about 2 years ago. However, throughout all this time, the mother had been poisoning and manipulating the child, who is now about 10 or 11. Well, in court at some final hearing, the child accused the father (my friend) of inappropriately touching her. Everything went right back on hold.

He is re-married and the father of twin toddlers. He and his new wife have, essentially, given up. He knows he can't win, and after years and years of this, he really doesn't have much of a choice. I think he tries to stay in contact but has given up on trying to win any custody or visitation rights.

I know, I know, cool story bro, but I guess my point is that if that's a natural biological father's experience in a case that's relatively clean-cut, I don't think your friend has much of a shot here.
 

globetrotter

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Originally Posted by Douglas
Ugh, I have no fucking idea, but this sounds terrible.

I do have a friend who was married and had a daughter with a crazy-ass woman. Of course I don't know the other side of the story but this fella was in the service, married a chick I guess he thought he loved on a pretty quick timetable and then was back on a submarine, and she turned out to nuts. He's a sane enough, reasonable, well-employed individual so I'm inclined to believe, at least mostly, his side of the story.

Mother refused to give him any rights when they divorced. He won court battle after court battle for increased visitation rights, but she lived out-of-state and would simply refuse to show up at appointed, err, "handover" times. She would not be home when he was scheduled to pick up his daughter, and as he had driven several hours to be there, could not just swing by later. This happened many many times, and she was supposedly dressed down by judge after judge, at which point she would find a way to move things to a new judge and start the process over, until the new judge came to realize she was working the system - at which point she would find a new one. Not sure how it all works but in the end, he'd sometimes get visits but they'd have to send a sherriff with him to actually be able to get the child.

According to him (and others I've read about), the system places such a high premium on the rights of the birth mother that they can get away with just about anything. And if they know how to work the system, it goes double.

Anyways, it appeared he had finally won out and was going to get custody for an entire summer about 2 years ago. However, throughout all this time, the mother had been poisoning and manipulating the child, who is now about 10 or 11. Well, in court at some final hearing, the child accused the father (my friend) of inappropriately touching her. Everything went right back on hold.

He is re-married and the father of twin toddlers. He and his new wife have, essentially, given up. He knows he can't win, and after years and years of this, he really doesn't have much of a choice. I think he tries to stay in contact but has given up on trying to win any custody or visitation rights.

I know, I know, cool story bro, but I guess my point is that if that's a natural biological father's experience in a case that's relatively clean-cut, I don't think your friend has much of a shot here.


thanks - that is actually helpful. I want to make sure that I don't suggest she do something that she hasn't a chance in hell of getting. fuck.

btw - the birth mother accused the other mother both of inappropriately touching, and of putting the boy at risk by letting him go to the changing room in the YMCA by himself, at age 8, instead of making him change in the womans room.


these people are fucking nuts.
 

crazyquik

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** this is not legal advice and I am not your lawyer and these people should find real-life attorneys in Chicago or whereever they live **

I could not follow the OP, however I question whether there was a formal (legal) custody arrangement, or is this informal? And are you asking for legal advice, and whether one mother can sue the other to force visitation?

I am assuming your wife's friend is the Adoptive Mother (AM), and not the Birth Mother (BM).

According to this website, second-parent adoption is blessed in Illinois: http://familylawtopics.com/?p=312 As a result, it appears that the Adoptive Mother is equal in the eyes of the law to the Birth Mother.

It appears the adoptive lesbian mother can sue and attempt to force custody if she is being denied. If she wants to go down that path you should suggest she speak with an attorney. Any competent family law attorney who routinely does custody disputes should be able to handle this, or she can seek out a 'gay family law' attorney.
 

globetrotter

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Originally Posted by crazyquik
** this is not legal advice and I am not your lawyer and these people should find real-life attorneys in Chicago or whereever they live **

I could not follow the OP, however I question whether there was a formal (legal) custody arrangement, or is this informal? And are you asking for legal advice, and whether one mother can sue the other to force visitation?

I am assuming your wife's friend is the Adoptive Mother (AM), and not the Birth Mother (BM).

According to this website, second-parent adoption is blessed in Illinois: http://familylawtopics.com/?p=312 As a result, it appears that the Adoptive Mother is equal in the eyes of the law to the Birth Mother.

It appears the adoptive lesbian mother can sue and attempt to force custody if she is being denied. If she wants to go down that path you should suggest she speak with an attorney. Any competent family law attorney who routinely does custody disputes should be able to handle this, or she can seek out a 'gay family law' attorney.


thanks - she has a "gay" family lawyer. they have a legal custody agreement.

I have been asked to advise as a trusted friend, I guess.

I guess the question is more - should she be pushing to spend more time with a 9 year old who has expressed a desire not to spend any more time with her, or should she accept the kids request (which is probably the brain washing of the birth mother)? more a parenting/divorced person question than a law question, maybe.

but thanks.
 

Mr T

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Your best help is as her friend. Be generous with support, hugs, a glass of wine etc. But leave the custody issue to her and her lawyer.

EDIT: I have been told I have a gift for stating the obvious and fear it may be true here. If so, disregard and just accept my wish of good luck. I am sure your friendship means a lot to this woman right now.
 

NorCal

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Slap the shit out of all three women involved and tell them to get their head right. The kid will not gain from this and they should know better.

That said, I have no idea. I would say that the AM should have visitation and if she did spend time with the kid and had raised her likely the relationship would be worthwhile.
 

Kajak

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I just remembered not to DT outside of dt
 

Milpool

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No advice, but hearing (or reading) about custody fights and manipulating kids to get back at someone and shit really makes me hate humanity.
 

Thomas

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GT - I hate to say this, but I have two friends who each were in similar situations (hetero, but otherwise the same), and in each case said friends pretty well had to just let go of their children.

In both cases they were hard decisions and both friends really did not want to let go because they both were decent fathers, but both children were placed with their mothers who knew no limits to their pettiness and neither friend could commit the time to work through the damage their former spouses had done.
 

globetrotter

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Originally Posted by Thomas
GT - I hate to say this, but I have two friends who each were in similar situations (hetero, but otherwise the same), and in each case said friends pretty well had to just let go of their children.

In both cases they were hard decisions and both friends really did not want to let go because they both were decent fathers, but both children were placed with their mothers who knew no limits to their pettiness and neither friend could commit the time to work through the damage their former spouses had done.


thanks - good feedback. also, the Adoptive mother makes less money that the birth mother, and is really struggling to handle the legal fees. this has been a tough few years for her.

I most recently suggested that she try to negotiate less hours, but worked out in a smarter way. it will make the kid feel that she is being more flexible towards him, I guess.

I know the kid - he was a friend of my son, and he isn't the brightest bulb in the box, either. I do feel bad for him and for everyone involved.
 

Harold falcon

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Originally Posted by Mr T
Your best help is as her friend. Be generous with support, hugs, a glass of wine etc. But leave the custody issue to her and her lawyer. EDIT: I have been told I have a gift for stating the obvious and fear it may be true here. If so, disregard and just accept my wish of good luck. I am sure your friendship means a lot to this woman right now.
"Obvious" or not, this is the only possible advice you need to follow. You are not a lawyer, your opinion on the custody issue is irrelevant. EDIT - From an attorney's standpoint, obnoxious parents fighting with each other over their children are a goldmine. These people are too stupid to work in the best interests of the kid so they wind up paying ridiculous amounts in attorney's fees.
 

Thomas

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Originally Posted by globetrotter
thanks - good feedback. also, the Adoptive mother makes less money that the birth mother, and is really struggling to handle the legal fees. this has been a tough few years for her.

I most recently suggested that she try to negotiate less hours, but worked out in a smarter way. it will make the kid feel that she is being more flexible towards him, I guess.

I know the kid - he was a friend of my son, and he isn't the brightest bulb in the box, either. I do feel bad for him and for everyone involved.


Hmm, now I'm confused: does the child want to spend more time with Adoptive mother? And Birth Mother is fighting that? Or do I have it the other way around?

I was about to suggest that the son can exert some modest influence as to what/where/when things happen, by developing behavioral issues that cause CPS involvement. Sounds underhanded and manipulative - and it is...but this also happens naturally to a degree in some children anyway when there's an ugly custody battle, since the child now sees 'mom' and 'mom' - who (in the child's mind) love each other because that's how it's been for the past 9 years... start treating each other like dirt: and now the child is getting conditioned to treat those he loves like dirt as well. Long story, that, but I've seen this come up.

One more case that just came to mind: a friend of my wife married a lady who had a son from a previous marriage. By all appearances, the child ought to have gone to the mother and our friend - and they had primary custody, the birth father had weekends and visitation and really gamed the system. Birth father, btw, was a real bundle of issues: owned a seedy bar, drug use in the house, bad girlfriends, etc. Son did NOT want to see his birth father, at all. Our friend has resources, money, knows people, has good lawyers, etc. etc.

We got a call a few weeks back: son went to the birth father for primary custody. We're still scratching our heads at that one, although we do not have line-of-sight to what happened. The birth father has modest resources and a few friends at HPD, but was able to pull off the 'upset'.

The fight continues, though. Good luck to your friend.
 

Reggs

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I was the object of a custody battle when I was a kid. If the boy wants less time with the other mother, let him. 9 is old enough to know what he wants. You are not going to force love on any child, and who says he wont have 2 parents if he has a step mother now? And who is to say that the step mother will not be more loving than the other mother?

All that said, it's none of your business.
 

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