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  1. #1
    3junebugs is offline Member
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    Expedited custody questions

    What is the name of your state (only U.S. law)? PA

    I live in MD but my CO is out of PA where NCP (Dad) still lives. Currently he has no ordered visitation and I have primary physical and legal custody since 12/09 because he didn't show up to court. Whenever I was in PA, I would arrange visitation with Dad. Dad has always been offered and encouraged to visit DS in MD or any other halfway point. Dad filed a modification 10/2010 for primary custody and our date is 5/16/2011.

    Last Monday, DS, 11, confided in me that when he was at his father's for his birthday last June, he found a gun on his fathers windowsill. He said that he picked it up, pulled the trigger, but nothing happened. He then took the gun apart, but wasn't able to get it back together and his dad found out. His dad starts getting upset and then starts to cry and say that DS could have really hurt himself. DS then says "Mom, I know I should have told you sooner, but my Dad told me not to. He said you would get mad and I wouldn't be able to go back".

    This isn't the first time Dad has asked son to lie and then it comes to light later. I found out that after his Labor Day visit last year that DS was around two cousins that are court ordered to have no contact with him because of sexually inappropriate behavior. DS also stated that this wasn't the first time he saw them since they were ordered not to be around DS- again, his father told him not to tell anyone because it would get Dad in trouble. That was the last time Dad saw DS because I emailed him asking to discuss what happened and he responded by filing for a modification claiming I was keeping our son from him and that my husband was abusing him. There's more to that story, but trying to keep the details short.

    So next day I call my lawyer and he says we will file and expedited motion to suspend dads custodial rights until 1) He shows proof to the court that any gun he has is relinquished to the police dept. and he not have any guns in his home until DS becomes age of majority and 2) he gets counseling and gets a certified report stating that he understands he has to abide by all of the court orders and that he understands he puts our son in jeopardy by allowing him to have contact with the three cousins he's ordered to stay away from.

    My questions are: Can a Master order this in an expedited hearing? Or can he just make a recommendation? Are these requests realistic? If they do get ordered, and Dad doesn't comply, what would be his consequences? Would his rights stay suspended indefinitely if he never went for the counseling or turned over the gun? If he doesn't comply, would that be grounds to terminate his parental rights?

    Dad doesn't have legal counsel and I doubt he will be able to retain any.
    Last edited by 3junebugs; 02-27-2011 at 12:37 PM. Reason: typo
  2. #2
    mistoffolees is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by 3junebugs View Post
    My questions are: Can a Master order this in an expedited hearing? Or can he just make a recommendation? Are these requests realistic? If they do get ordered, and Dad doesn't comply, what would be his consequences? Would his rights stay suspended indefinitely if he never went for the counseling or turned over the gun? If he doesn't comply, would that be grounds to terminate his parental rights?

    Dad doesn't have legal counsel and I doubt he will be able to retain any.
    Yes, that is well within the court's discretion - and they seem like reasonable requests. (Dad may offer to keep the gun locked up rather than turn it over to the police and the Master will have to decide if that is acceptable).

    If the order says his rights are suspended until he does X and he never does X, then his rights stay suspended.

    Termination of parental rights? That's a stretch. Grounds are here:
    [url=http://library.adoption.com/articles/grounds-for-termination-of-parental-rights-pennsylvania.html]Grounds for Termination of Parental Rights Pennsylvania -[/url]

    Note that abandonment is NOT grounds for TPR in PA. None of the others would apply - since Dad would not be in the child's life, so he could not be a danger to the child. The only plausible scenario for TPR is if Dad completely abandons the kid and someone else wants to adopt. Then the court MIGHT use the "best interests of the child" grounds.
  3. #3
    CJane is online now Senior Member
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    You want a judge to order that Dad cannot engage in his Constitutional right to own a firearm because your son is irresponsible enough to decide to play with one? Seriously?

    We're not talking about a 2 year old here. Your 10/11 year old son doesn't know that guns aren't toys, and it doesn't matter WHERE he finds one, he shouldn't be pulling the trigger to see what happens, or taking it apart or anything else? Where are YOUR parenting skills? At least, when he found out, DAD explained to kiddo that he could have hurt someone (including himself) and he should never have touched the gun.

    And of course, instead of explaining to your son how STUPID his behavior was, you'd rather just make Dad not own guns at all.
  4. #4
    CJane is online now Senior Member
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    Oh wait. It's also the "other kids'" fault that your son tripped him and he broke his elbow because he shouldn't have been cutting in line anyway.

    I'd be interested in knowing what the order says regarding the cousins too. Does it say "Son cannot be around X Y and Z" or does it say "Son shall not have unsupervised contact with X Y and Z"? There's a huge difference.
  5. #5
    3junebugs is offline Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by mistoffolees View Post
    Yes, that is well within the court's discretion - and they seem like reasonable requests. (Dad may offer to keep the gun locked up rather than turn it over to the police and the Master will have to decide if that is acceptable).

    If the order says his rights are suspended until he does X and he never does X, then his rights stay suspended.

    Termination of parental rights? That's a stretch. Grounds are here:
    [url=http://library.adoption.com/articles/grounds-for-termination-of-parental-rights-pennsylvania.html]Grounds for Termination of Parental Rights Pennsylvania -[/url]

    Note that abandonment is NOT grounds for TPR in PA. None of the others would apply - since Dad would not be in the child's life, so he could not be a danger to the child. The only plausible scenario for TPR is if Dad completely abandons the kid and someone else wants to adopt. Then the court MIGHT use the "best interests of the child" grounds.
    Thanks!

    I can't prove it, but I highly doubt that this gun would be registered and that Dad is licensed. He lives in Philadelphia and you can buy a gun there like you can a hoagie I also know that he pleaded guilty to a Simple Assault charge back in 1998. Would he be able to legally get a gun with this conviction?

    What is the difference between Abandonment and Failure to Maintain Contact?

    TPR would be an last resort and probably unnecessary. If he chooses not to comply then, oh well. I would just have to deal with the effect on DS as I have with everything else. I have the slim hope that maybe the threat of losing all rights would make him shape up but I'm not holding my breath
  6. #6
    Proserpina is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by 3junebugs View Post
    Thanks!

    I can't prove it, but I highly doubt that this gun would be registered and that Dad is licensed. He lives in Philadelphia and you can buy a gun there like you can a hoagie I also know that he pleaded guilty to a Simple Assault charge back in 1998. Would he be able to legally get a gun with this conviction?

    What is the difference between Abandonment and Failure to Maintain Contact?

    TPR would be an last resort and probably unnecessary. If he chooses not to comply then, oh well. I would just have to deal with the effect on DS as I have with everything else. I have the slim hope that maybe the threat of losing all rights would make him shape up but I'm not holding my breath


    You don't need a license to own a gun in PA....and you are not required to register a firearm in PA.

    http://www.pafoa.org/law
  7. #7
    3junebugs is offline Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by CJane View Post
    You want a judge to order that Dad cannot engage in his Constitutional right to own a firearm because your son is irresponsible enough to decide to play with one? Seriously?

    We're not talking about a 2 year old here. Your 10/11 year old son doesn't know that guns aren't toys, and it doesn't matter WHERE he finds one, he shouldn't be pulling the trigger to see what happens, or taking it apart or anything else? Where are YOUR parenting skills? At least, when he found out, DAD explained to kiddo that he could have hurt someone (including himself) and he should never have touched the gun.

    And of course, instead of explaining to your son how STUPID his behavior was, you'd rather just make Dad not own guns at all.
    Our you seriously pinning this on a child? Since when should my son be expected to think like an adult? Since when is it a child fault that the ADULT is being IRRESPONSIBLE and openly leaves out a gun for a child to play with?

    Besides that, my son has ADHD, ODD, Anxiety, Depression, and Mood Disorder. He is extremely impulsive and has a history of making poor judgment decisions and is not as mature as his fellow 11 year olds. He's been in therapy since he was 6 and under psychological care since he was 9. None of which Dad has EVER participated in. Dad's poor judgment is evident when he knows that three of his nephews sexually assaulted his son, with one being adjudicated as a delinquent, but still maintains contact (which is his right as an adult) but then also subjects his son to them over and over again, basically ASKING for the assaults to happen again. DS has tried to run away and hurt himself in the past. Dad has continually put our son in danger and as much as it pains me, I have complied with court orders and procedures when I would much rather go off instinct. I've made and learned from that mistake already.

    I did explain to my son that guns are not toys and that he should have never touched it at all. We do not have any guns, toy or otherwise, in our home and have always told our children they are dangerous. But I hope that when our son is with his FATHER, that he would be in a safe environment. And given my son's mental health, I could tell him until I was blue in the face, but he would still act on impulse. How can I possibly control what goes on during his visitation with Dad? I had no idea that his father had a gun.

    But regardless, I don't give a rats ass about Dad's constitutional right if he's using that right irresponsibly!
  8. #8
    CJane is online now Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Proserpina View Post
    You don't need a license to own a gun in PA....and you are not required to register a firearm in PA.

    http://www.pafoa.org/law

    Thank you, Pro, for that citation.

    So, not only would the court be interfering with Dad's Constitutional right to bear arms, AND his Constitutional right to parent his child as he sees fit, but ALSO interfering with his statutory right to own a gun without state interference or monitoring.

    I'm shocked that the attorney even suggested it, frankly.
  9. #9
    Proserpina is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by 3junebugs View Post
    I had no idea that his father had a gun.


    Frankly, that's nunya. If Dad wants to take kiddo down to TargetPractice (I used to have a membership there too - ah, those were the days), that's also nunya.



    But regardless, I don't give a rats ass about Dad's constitutional right if he's using that right irresponsibly!


    Well then, there we have it.
  10. #10
    CJane is online now Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by 3junebugs View Post
    Our you seriously pinning this on a child? Since when should my son be expected to think like an adult? Since when is it a child fault that the ADULT is being IRRESPONSIBLE and openly leaves out a gun for a child to play with?
    I wouldn't expect him to think like an adult.

    My family owns guns. I date cops and military officers. There are guns around, pretty much wherever I end up visiting. My mother has a hand gun on her nightstand and a shot-gun in the closet by the front door. My older kids were raised with guns in the house. He**, my two uncles have near-arsenals due to their "end of days" belief systems.

    And you know what? My FIVE YEAR OLD would not even consider touching a gun. In fact, he would do what any child should be taught to do, and leave it there and tell a grown up. I know this, because it's what happens EVERY. TIME. he walks through my Mom's bedroom and sees the gun lying on her nightstand. It's what happens every. time. we're at my uncle's house and he sees the civil war revolvers hanging above the mantle.

    So yeah, I'm thinking that DESPITE your son's issues, you should expect him to take some responsibility for his actions.

    And the adult WAS being responsible. Was the gun loaded? Clearly not, as your son didn't manage to kill himself or anyone else when he decided to pick up a random gun and pull the trigger to see what would happen.

    He is extremely impulsive and has a history of making poor judgment decisions and is not as mature as his fellow 11 year olds.
    Clearly. Which is why he assaulted someone at school. Of course, I'm sure it doesn't HELP his judgment when you swoop to his rescue and try to control his environment and force someone else to take responsibility for his actions.

    It's Dad's fault that kiddo decided a gun would make a cool toy.
    It's the boy's fault your son tripped him.
    It's the school's fault your son tripped the boy because they weren't "monitoring" the "situation".

    He's been in therapy since he was 6 and under psychological care since he was 9.
    What's the difference between therapy and psychological care? And why, in 5 years of that has he not learned enough impulse control to know what my 5 year old knows?

    None of which Dad has EVER participated in. Dad's poor judgment is evident when he knows that three of his nephews sexually assaulted his son, with one being adjudicated as a delinquent, but still maintains contact (which is his right as an adult) but then also subjects his son to them over and over again, basically ASKING for the assaults to happen again.
    Is he locking them alone in a room together?

    Or is he modeling forgiveness? You want to say that your son cannot be held responsible for his actions because of his disorders. But you also want Dad and everyone else to assume that the actions committed by ANOTHER child were intentional and WILL be repeated. You can't see the contradiction there?

    My cousin tried to KILL his mother and his brother. Took sniper shots at them from his bedroom window and then trapped them in the house and opened fire on them. He shot his mother 3 times. She still has a bullet in her liver. He served 6 years in a juvenile facility. And no one blamed his mother or his father for owning guns, or claimed that he wasn't responsible for his actions because he had a very similar diagnosis to what your son has. He served 6 years in a juvenile facility and was welcomed back into the family when he got out. Even moved back in with his mother, father and brother. He's been out 2 years and his diagnosis hasn't changed, of course. But we don't all sit around and wait for the "next time". We love him. We support him. And we'll all attend his wedding this summer.

    DS has tried to run away and hurt himself in the past. Dad has continually put our son in danger and as much as it pains me, I have complied with court orders and procedures when I would much rather go off instinct. I've made and learned from that mistake already.
    How so? I mean, if kiddo is in danger "continually", why did it take son touching an unloaded gun for you to attempt legal action?

    I did explain to my son that guns are not toys and that he should have never touched it at all. We do not have any guns, toy or otherwise, in our home and have always told our children they are dangerous. But I hope that when our son is with his FATHER, that he would be in a safe environment.
    I'll bet the parents of the kid your son assaulted thought that school was a safe environment for their son as well.

    And given my son's mental health, I could tell him until I was blue in the face, but he would still act on impulse.
    Then perhaps he needs an inpatient center.

    How can I possibly control what goes on during his visitation with Dad? I had no idea that his father had a gun.
    Because it's not your business. And I'll just bet that pains you more than anything else.

    But regardless, I don't give a rats ass about Dad's constitutional right if he's using that right irresponsibly!
    You don't have to give a rat's behind about it. But the court does.
  11. #11
    3junebugs is offline Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by CJane View Post
    Oh wait. It's also the "other kids'" fault that your son tripped him and he broke his elbow because he shouldn't have been cutting in line anyway.

    I'd be interested in knowing what the order says regarding the cousins too. Does it say "Son cannot be around X Y and Z" or does it say "Son shall not have unsupervised contact with X Y and Z"? There's a huge difference.
    The questioning had to do with liability for insurance reasons. They base coverage on how much 'fault' can be assigned to the other party. You are taking this out of context but it is further proof of my son's poor judgment decisions.

    There is a Protective Order against Cousin X issued out of the Juvenile Section of Family Court. It is entered under 18 P.S. 4954. It states that Cousin X and all of his immediate family (which is also cousin Y) are to refrain from ANY contact, direct or indirect and are to refrain from any intimidation personally or by third party.

    There is a Family Court order out of Domestic Relations that states : FATHER SHALL INSURE THAT THE CHILDREN "COUSIN X" AND "COUSIN Y" SHALL NEVER HAVE CONTACT WHATSOEVER WITH DS.

    There is a third order that states: DS IS NOT TO BE IN THE PRESENCE OF HIS COUSIN Z UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES EVEN IN THE PRESENCE OF A THIRD PARTY UNTIL FURTHER ORDER OF THE COURT. This order has never been vacated.

    I have also had to get court orders for Dad to keep cats out of his home since DS is highly allergic. Dad had left DS and his DD unsupervised for over 18 hours along with not having heat and hot water in the home. Ultimately he lost custody of both children for a time because of this. Dad is definitely not going to win any Dad of the Year awards

    Quote Originally Posted by Proserpina View Post
    You don't need a license to own a gun in PA....and you are not required to register a firearm in PA.

    http://www.pafoa.org/law
    I didn't know this. Thanks.
  12. #12
    3junebugs is offline Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by CJane View Post



    How so? I mean, if kiddo is in danger "continually", why did it take son touching an unloaded gun for you to attempt legal action?
    Please go back and read my OP. DS has not seen Dad since he told me he was in the presence of said cousins. DS told me that this wasn't the first time, but his was the first I had heard of it. I contacted my attorney and he said wait and see if dad facilitates communication about it before we filed anything. There was NO EMERGENCY as I have no order stating that Dad was to have any scheduled custody. Dad never responded to my emails and filed for a modification the next month. There was still no reason to file. When this incident happened, my attorney decided that instead of dropping the bomb when we go to court in May, it would be best to put both issues on record.


    As for the sexual assaults, Dad has never acknowledge that the assaults are real. Dad didn't show up to court for the Juvenile case because he didn't want to be put in the position of choosing between his son and his nephew. His Dad and family continually claim DS lied and made everything up and that it's DS's fault he can't be around those family members. Dad is not fostering forgiveness, he's fostering denial. To this day, he states that nothing could have ever possibly happened even after both the courts and social services have determined otherwise. The kids do not have to be "locked" in a room together for them to be assaulted. It could happen in the bathroom, in the movies, in the back seat of a car etc.

    I trust that my son's providers can determine if he needs impatient care, but thanks for you concern.
    Last edited by 3junebugs; 02-27-2011 at 02:22 PM. Reason: fixed quote typo
  13. #13
    mistoffolees is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by CJane View Post
    Thank you, Pro, for that citation.

    So, not only would the court be interfering with Dad's Constitutional right to bear arms, AND his Constitutional right to parent his child as he sees fit, but ALSO interfering with his statutory right to own a gun without state interference or monitoring.

    I'm shocked that the attorney even suggested it, frankly.
    That's not what is being suggested.

    Dad has the right to have his home full of guns if he wishes. But the court is also free to rule that the kid isn't going to Dad's house as long as Dad has guns - since Dad has shown himself to be irresponsible about his guns. That simply gives Dad a choice. My guns or my child?

    By analogy, you're free to drink in every state if you're over 21. But if you have a history of alcohol abuse, the court can make an order that you're not allowed to drink when the child is in your custody. Same thing.
  14. #14
    3junebugs is offline Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by CJane View Post


    What's the difference between therapy and psychological care? And why, in 5 years of that has he not learned enough impulse control to know what my 5 year old knows?


    I was unclear. He has been seeing a licensed therapist since he was 6 and then started seeing a psychologist too at age 9.

    As to why he can't learn impulse control, I honestly can't answer that for you. We have tried many different behavior modifications tools and he still acts first, thinks later. Could I be doing something wrong? Sure, but that doesn't stop me from trying to figure it all out.

    I read the post Proserpina posted and I didn't know that it was legal to have a gun in your home. I ASSumed that it was illegal if you didn't have it licensed and/or registered. Now I know. But that still doesn't deter me from pursuing, based on my son's behavior and his fathers, that no guns be in the home while my son is there for his best interests. If it gets rejected, well then, I will know why
  15. #15
    Ohiogal is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by CJane View Post
    I wouldn't expect him to think like an adult.

    My family owns guns. I date cops and military officers. There are guns around, pretty much wherever I end up visiting. My mother has a hand gun on her nightstand and a shot-gun in the closet by the front door. My older kids were raised with guns in the house. He**, my two uncles have near-arsenals due to their "end of days" belief systems.

    And you know what? My FIVE YEAR OLD would not even consider touching a gun. In fact, he would do what any child should be taught to do, and leave it there and tell a grown up. I know this, because it's what happens EVERY. TIME. he walks through my Mom's bedroom and sees the gun lying on her nightstand. It's what happens every. time. we're at my uncle's house and he sees the civil war revolvers hanging above the mantle.

    So yeah, I'm thinking that DESPITE your son's issues, you should expect him to take some responsibility for his actions.

    And the adult WAS being responsible. Was the gun loaded? Clearly not, as your son didn't manage to kill himself or anyone else when he decided to pick up a random gun and pull the trigger to see what would happen.



    Clearly. Which is why he assaulted someone at school. Of course, I'm sure it doesn't HELP his judgment when you swoop to his rescue and try to control his environment and force someone else to take responsibility for his actions.

    It's Dad's fault that kiddo decided a gun would make a cool toy.
    It's the boy's fault your son tripped him.
    It's the school's fault your son tripped the boy because they weren't "monitoring" the "situation".



    What's the difference between therapy and psychological care? And why, in 5 years of that has he not learned enough impulse control to know what my 5 year old knows?



    Is he locking them alone in a room together?

    Or is he modeling forgiveness? You want to say that your son cannot be held responsible for his actions because of his disorders. But you also want Dad and everyone else to assume that the actions committed by ANOTHER child were intentional and WILL be repeated. You can't see the contradiction there?

    My cousin tried to KILL his mother and his brother. Took sniper shots at them from his bedroom window and then trapped them in the house and opened fire on them. He shot his mother 3 times. She still has a bullet in her liver. He served 6 years in a juvenile facility. And no one blamed his mother or his father for owning guns, or claimed that he wasn't responsible for his actions because he had a very similar diagnosis to what your son has. He served 6 years in a juvenile facility and was welcomed back into the family when he got out. Even moved back in with his mother, father and brother. He's been out 2 years and his diagnosis hasn't changed, of course. But we don't all sit around and wait for the "next time". We love him. We support him. And we'll all attend his wedding this summer.



    How so? I mean, if kiddo is in danger "continually", why did it take son touching an unloaded gun for you to attempt legal action?



    I'll bet the parents of the kid your son assaulted thought that school was a safe environment for their son as well.



    Then perhaps he needs an inpatient center.



    Because it's not your business. And I'll just bet that pains you more than anything else.



    You don't have to give a rat's behind about it. But the court does.
    I agree with Cjane.
    Parents should remember 3 things: Love your kids more than you hate your ex; when you have children the relationship with the other parent is until death; your children determine what type of nursing home you end up in.
    Nothing stated by me should be taken as giving you legal advice or forming an attorney/client relationship.

    Attorney-GAL in Ohio.

    I've removed the knife from my back, polished it, and will one day return it -- long after you think I have forgotten.

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