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  1. #1
    SunnyLee is offline Junior Member
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    Father wants to change custody agreement

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

    This is a little long but I'll give as much background as I can. I have two kids aged 11 and 9. My ex and I have been divorced for 5 years now. We have joint legal custody and I have primary physical custody. Our agreement is as follows:
    -odd holidays the kids are with dad/even they are with me
    -school year they are with me
    -summer they are with dad

    This seems to be a pretty standard agreement since we do not live in the same state. We are both in the military. For the first 4 years of our divorce, dad rarely saw the kids. I did not and never will keep the kids from him. He was "recovering" from the divorce and chose not to see them. He calls them a few times per month. We divorced in 2005. The first time he saw the kids after the divorce was xmas 07. He then saw them for one week in Apr 08 and again for 3 weeks in Aug 09. Again this was all his choice. In Aug 09, he said to me he wanted the kids to come live with him for a year or two because he has missed out. The discussion was put to rest. He then saw the kids for 2 days in Feb 10 and for 6 weeks this past summer. This was the greatest amount of consecutive time he has spent with them since the divorce. We have always been on friendly terms. I am open to discussion about the kids but he never asks.

    Just recently, he brought up having the kids move to be with him again. He started talking about having them the last half of the school year but it quickly turned into flip-flopping the custody agreement into a permanent situation. I told him I didn't think this was best for the kids. We both move quite often because of what we do so I told him moving them more than necessary is not what's best for the kids. This really made him angry. He called me a few choice names and threatened to take me to court.

    He is getting remarried in the next few months. His new wife has 3 kids from a previous marriage. My kids get along with everyone fine and I think she's nice and does right by my kids. I believe he wants his "whole" family together as a reason for doing this. I have provided for the kids for the last 5 years giving them as stable a home as I can. I recently remarried. The kids loved the man but after we married he started beating me. I quickly got a restraining order and sought a divorce. The kids were not aware of what was going on. I did tell my ex to keep him informed and now he threatens to use that against me in court...although I don't believe he can.

    I have not asked the kids what their wishes are because I don't think they really know. Although I know he has talked extensively about it with them and even telling them "mom has had you for 5 years, don't you think it's my turn?" I got this from the kids. I haven't asked them as I said, but they talked about it for the first day or two upon returning from dad's house this summer. The topic has not been brought back up by them which further tells me it was dad pushing the topic.

    Phew...my question is, what are his chances of having the custody agreement changed? His only basis is the fact that he is getting remarried which would provide a two-parent household. However, she will not be working and financially, he cannot afford 5 kids and a new wife. I can afford myself and my two kids. The kids are in an excellent school, have an established routine, and are not lacking in the love and affection department. I would really appreciate any personal stories of someone that may have gone through something similar.What is the name of your state (only U.S. law)?What is the name of your state (only U.S. law)?
  2. #2
    Proserpina is offline Senior Member
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    If you don't agree to it, I cannot see Dad being successful in getting a modification based upon what you've said here.

    Please though - don't bring the kids into it. Asking them what they want to do is putting them slap bang in the middle and can really stress them out.
  3. #3
    SunnyLee is offline Junior Member
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    I agree...this is why I have not asked them.

    I grew up in a divorced home where my mother trashed my dad which caused me to harbor ill feelings towards him. I know have a better relationship with my dad so I swore I would never do that to my kids. I also swore this to their dad and he knows I wouldn't do it. I am very flexible with when he wants to see them and talk to them. I basically go out of my way to keep their relationship going. It's just frustrating that he now wants to do this when I have been cooperating all along. I do not want to change the agreement.
  4. #4
    Proserpina is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by SunnyLee View Post
    I agree...this is why I have not asked them.

    I grew up in a divorced home where my mother trashed my dad which caused me to harbor ill feelings towards him. I know have a better relationship with my dad so I swore I would never do that to my kids. I also swore this to their dad and he knows I wouldn't do it. I am very flexible with when he wants to see them and talk to them. I basically go out of my way to keep their relationship going. It's just frustrating that he now wants to do this when I have been cooperating all along. I do not want to change the agreement.



    If he does file something, you can request that a GAL be appointed who will make a recommendation based upon the best interests of the children.

    With that said, I'm still not seeing anywhere near enough to switch primary custody; the kids are apparently doing well and are settled and frankly they shouldn't be uprooted because Dad chose not to see them much in the past few years.

    That's his problem - not theirs.
  5. #5
    LdiJ is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by SunnyLee View Post
    I agree...this is why I have not asked them.

    I grew up in a divorced home where my mother trashed my dad which caused me to harbor ill feelings towards him. I know have a better relationship with my dad so I swore I would never do that to my kids. I also swore this to their dad and he knows I wouldn't do it. I am very flexible with when he wants to see them and talk to them. I basically go out of my way to keep their relationship going. It's just frustrating that he now wants to do this when I have been cooperating all along. I do not want to change the agreement.
    I agree with Proserpina. Dad would need a significant change in the children's circumstances (his remarriage does not count) to effect a custody change. He simply does not have anything.

    If you had not immediately gotten a restraining order and sought divorce from the husband who beat you, dad WOULD have had a change in circumstance. However, since you did, he does not.

    If he talks to an attorney and tells the attorney the whole story, then its unlikely that an attorney would give him much encouragement.
  6. #6
    SunnyLee is offline Junior Member
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    Thanks all. This is what I thought but it's just nice to hear my thoughts reiterated.

    After I got the retraining order, CPS had to come to the home due to the circumstances and the fact that kids were in the home. They spoke with me and the kids and did some followup and found no reason for concern and closed their case within a week of opening it so I know I took the right steps so nothing from that should come back in this custody issue.

    I don't know if he would tell the lawyer the whole truth. If you asked me a month ago I would have told you we had a good relationship and he wouldn't do something like this but this is so out of left field that I don't know what he would do or not do.

    Thanks again!
  7. #7
    TinkerBelleLuvr is offline Senior Member
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    Which state governs the custody agreement? You stated that you both move because of the military. Are either of you in the state that granted you custody?
  8. #8
    SunnyLee is offline Junior Member
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    We divoced in NM. I do know if he intends on taking me to court, he will have to request a change in jurisdiction from NM to FL since the kids now reside in FL. I don't really think he is going to do all this but again you never know. I think he will continue to talk with the kids about it. This is a conversation we will both need to have but I don't think it's going to be a nice one. I am not willing to have the kids choose between us because no kid should have to do that, but he is willing to do that. I am just totally shocked that after 6 weeks with them he thinks he knows what's best. And he continually changes his reasoning for wanting them. First it was so they could get to know step-mom and step-siblings all the way to stating they are better off with him because I'm a bad mom and he's married.
  9. #9
    mistoffolees is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by SunnyLee View Post
    We divoced in NM. I do know if he intends on taking me to court, he will have to request a change in jurisdiction from NM to FL since the kids now reside in FL. I don't really think he is going to do all this but again you never know. I think he will continue to talk with the kids about it. This is a conversation we will both need to have but I don't think it's going to be a nice one. I am not willing to have the kids choose between us because no kid should have to do that, but he is willing to do that. I am just totally shocked that after 6 weeks with them he thinks he knows what's best. And he continually changes his reasoning for wanting them. First it was so they could get to know step-mom and step-siblings all the way to stating they are better off with him because I'm a bad mom and he's married.
    If he's talking with the kids all the time, you probably don't want to just ignore it. At the least, you should tell them that the court has ordered them to be with you because the court determined that that was in their best interest (or the two parents agreed if that's the case). And explain to them that Dad can't simply make them move. I would also add that you are happy with the current situation and never interfere with their seeing Dad per the court orders.

    If you don't say anything, you'll have a couple of very worried kids (and pre-teens are probably the best worriers out there).

    You might also consider transferring jurisdiction to FL and asking for an order that neither parent can discuss relocation or proposed custody changes with the children without court approval.
  10. #10
    acmb05 is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by SunnyLee View Post
    We divoced in NM. I do know if he intends on taking me to court, he will have to request a change in jurisdiction from NM to FL since the kids now reside in FL. .
    Depends on if the ex still lives in NM or not.
  11. #11
    TinkerBelleLuvr is offline Senior Member
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    You may just want to send a firm note to the X that states that the children should not be put in the middle of this. Your 10:43 posting said it very nicely.
  12. #12
    SunnyLee is offline Junior Member
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    Thanks everyone for your input. I think I will type him a letter asking him not to talk to the kids about moving with him because technically that puts them in the middle of it all. We decided on this agreement ourselves when divorcing but it was approved by the courts. On the order, it lists steps involving a dispute. Any change to the order is supposed to be requested in writing and the answer is to be given in writing. If that can't solve it, then we are to go to mediation with court being the last option. Additionally it specifically states at no time will the kids be placed in the middle and I feel that they are very much so. I get nervous every time he calls because I don't know what he's saying to them and what they are going to say to me when they get off the phone. I think he may have put it to bed for now because I refused to move them anywhere in the middle of the school year if they didn't have to.

    The last straw for me was just a few days before the kids returned from the summer, the kids called to talk to me. They were on speaker phone on their end. The first thing out of their mouths was "we want to live with dad". Not Hi or anything. So I thought he might have put them up to it. Then I just said okay well we will talk about it in a few months. Apparently dad was listening in and got pissed at my answer because he started yelling at me with the kids in the room. I told him I wouldn't talk to him until he took me off speaker and went to another room. He did but he had nothing nice to say.

    No he no longer lives in NM. He is preparing to move soon. I pulled every string I could to get transferred to FL because the X and I are both from here and the majority of the extended families live here so the kids wanted to spend more time with the grandparents. I would do anything I could to move where he is going when my time here is done but something tells me that may not be good enough for him.

    Anywho...I think a letter would be the way to go. Any more advice is much appreciated!

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