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  1. #1
    Yoda is offline Junior Member
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    Father would want custody, mother with mental health issues

    What is the name of your state? IL

    Hi! First post here, so I'll get right to it:

    The situation is that currently I am married, have a stepson who is going to be a senior in high school this year, and a young son of ours who is going into kindergarten. While the first couple years of our marriage were basically ok with a few ups and downs. One up was our son, with the down being that he was born at 29 weeks and was in the hospital for a couple months afterward. He is doing awesome, though he has some developmental delays. We were a team with him in the NICU and we were a team with getting him home and doing therapies and whatever it took to give him a great shot at life. Unfortunately, over the past few years, though, my wife has had declining physical and mental health. It started out more physical in nature, with multiple things going on like kidney stones and fibromyalgia and many other ailments that weren't life-threatening or anything, but it just seemed that whenever someone around her had something or she heard about something, *boom*, the next day she'd supposedly have it. It affected her job as she missed much work (she was working full time). She had a diagnosis of depression and took a med for it prior to us getting together, but she saw a doc a handful of times a year and seemed to be doing ok. Along with these physical ailments, though, she also started getting harder to get along with. Illogical reasoning and some self-destructive and obsessive compulsive behaviors. Her psych doc did nothing, so I finally convinced her to see someone else. With this guy the diagnosis of bipolar came out, along with anxiety. A bit later she was hospitalized for a week because of suicidal thoughts confessed at her appt with her doctor. She was determined to be disabled based on the multitude of conditions at play about a year and a half ago. She had to change to a new psych doc due to an insurance change and she continued to have behavior problems. The new doc added to the bipolar and anxiety, diagnoses of borderline personality disorder, ADHD, and a mixing of obsessive compulsive traits. They began to try some better medications for what she had going on, however, unknown to anyone, she stopped taking a couple of them some months ago. Over the course of the first part of this year I was noting a decline in her status and began to forecast back in April that I felt she would be in the hospital again soon. Sure enough, right after we returned from a vacation she had a meltdown complete with weird movements, altered skin sensations, visual and auditory hallucinations, and she was admitted again to a psychiatric unit for a week. She has been doing a "day hospital" thing since then but that is now ending. Her docs seem to thing she is doing wonderfully, however, they are not here to live with us and I believe their idea of "doing wonderfully" is simply that she is not currently suicidal, as far as anyone knows. Over this past semester while our little one was in special preschool, he missed a multitude of days that I didn't know about because she simply couldn't get herself up to take him. He would get up and apparently spend hours in his room with a wet or messy pullup until she felt able to tend to him at something like 10 or 11 in the morning. This is after me calling and calling in the morning to try and make sure she was getting up. If she did get him to school, I had to call to make sure she was picking him up...which she was very late doing frequently as well. Then she'd lay on the couch like a zombie until I got home and took over and she'd go to bed. Child care, older stepson care, supper prep, cleanup, whatever, fell to me. This is how it has been for some time. She cannot seem to play with him or clean up after him much of the time.

    I am trying to take steps to safeguard against these issues in the upcoming school year, but quite frankly, I don't even know if the relationship is going to last through the year. If it were not for my fears of losing my son to her custody, I might already be out of the relationship because I simply cannot keep up with her emotionally and mentally anymore. She's all over the place with manic phases and blowing money shopping, along with the irrational thought processing that comes with the borderline personality. The way I see it, if we're together, at least I can monitor him and his atmosphere every day and try to head off problems before they happen. I am worried that if we split, she would get a considerable amount of visitation and he'd actually be in worse shape that way than he is now. Still, this relationship has gone south in a hurry, we're more like roommates now, and he is seeing her going to the hospital or doctor all the time and now he is claiming to be sick and needing to go to the doctor on a daily basis now, trying to emulate her activities. Or he feigns sleeping on the sofa and says he's being mommy. I am concerned about a continuing issue with her not paying the attention to him that he needs as a small child and she often says she just can't provide. Although she will turn around and say that she feels she should have equal custody of him in the even that we did split. There is much more to the whole story, but I've tried to nutshell as best I can and still get the story across.

    So, my question here, dear readers, is what to do if conditions get to the point where I just have to say enough is enough and push forward with divorce? What's the possibility of me getting full custody of him? I am already providing the majority of his care and am fully comfortable in doing such. Is it possible for me to significantly limit her visitation? Or to permanently have them be supervised visitation only? She has left medications out before, and had episodes of basically passing out because of misuse of meds. I'm simply trying to do something, anything to not put him in that situation without me there to scout things out. I suggested putting him in latchkey this upcoming school year, but she threatened to take him and walk out and disappear if I tried to do that. Plus then I checked and all the local (small town) child care openings were filled. (btw, I have not yet spoken to a lawyer as I am using sites like this to gather information and be as informed as possible before I walk into a lawyer's office). What, if anything, can I do?

    thanks
  2. #2
    Silverplum is offline Senior Member
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    Yoda, that's WAY too long, too much info. Try cutting it down to just the basic pertinent facts, ok? thanks.
  3. #3
    Yoda is offline Junior Member
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    Sorry, don't mean to burden anyone, but I felt that a background of what all has been going on was in order to fully explain the situation. I feel that everything I presented IS pertinent fact, and I left a lot out. I mean, i could post:

    Wife mental, not taking care of kid properly, really hard to get along with, I'm considering divorce, want custody of child, how would I proceed?

    But then I'd have to answer a bunch of questions about what do I mean the wife is mental, how is she not taking care of the kid....more detail please. I've been through it already on other boards. The story is what it is, I guess if it's too long I'll move along...no hard feelings.
  4. #4
    Silverplum is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yoda View Post
    Sorry, don't mean to burden anyone, but I felt that a background of what all has been going on was in order to fully explain the situation. I feel that everything I presented IS pertinent fact, and I left a lot out. I mean, i could post:

    Wife mental, not taking care of kid properly, really hard to get along with, I'm considering divorce, want custody of child, how would I proceed?

    But then I'd have to answer a bunch of questions about what do I mean the wife is mental, how is she not taking care of the kid....more detail please. I've been through it already on other boards. The story is what it is, I guess if it's too long I'll move along...no hard feelings.
    Sorry, Yoda. Not trying to screw you around in your time of need.

    Okay. You say you are the primary caretaker of the child when you are not at work. That still leaves incompetent Mom in charge when you're not. I'd suggest you hire a sitter for the child during the day. This shows Mom that you do not think much of her child-care skillz and that you are willing to do something about it. See what she does then/next.

    As far as supervised visitation forever? Not usually. She would probably have benchmarks and might meet them, unlike the neverendingly unimproved Iraqis.

    There are others who will chime in. I've gotta go. Good luck to you, Dad.
  5. #5
    casa is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yoda View Post
    What is the name of your state? IL

    Hi! First post here, so I'll get right to it:

    The situation is that currently I am married, have a stepson who is going to be a senior in high school this year, and a young son of ours who is going into kindergarten. While the first couple years of our marriage were basically ok with a few ups and downs. One up was our son, with the down being that he was born at 29 weeks and was in the hospital for a couple months afterward. He is doing awesome, though he has some developmental delays. We were a team with him in the NICU and we were a team with getting him home and doing therapies and whatever it took to give him a great shot at life. Unfortunately, over the past few years, though, my wife has had declining physical and mental health. It started out more physical in nature, with multiple things going on like kidney stones and fibromyalgia and many other ailments that weren't life-threatening or anything, but it just seemed that whenever someone around her had something or she heard about something, *boom*, the next day she'd supposedly have it. It affected her job as she missed much work (she was working full time). She had a diagnosis of depression and took a med for it prior to us getting together, but she saw a doc a handful of times a year and seemed to be doing ok. Along with these physical ailments, though, she also started getting harder to get along with. Illogical reasoning and some self-destructive and obsessive compulsive behaviors. Her psych doc did nothing, so I finally convinced her to see someone else. With this guy the diagnosis of bipolar came out, along with anxiety. A bit later she was hospitalized for a week because of suicidal thoughts confessed at her appt with her doctor. She was determined to be disabled based on the multitude of conditions at play about a year and a half ago. She had to change to a new psych doc due to an insurance change and she continued to have behavior problems. The new doc added to the bipolar and anxiety, diagnoses of borderline personality disorder, ADHD, and a mixing of obsessive compulsive traits. They began to try some better medications for what she had going on, however, unknown to anyone, she stopped taking a couple of them some months ago. Over the course of the first part of this year I was noting a decline in her status and began to forecast back in April that I felt she would be in the hospital again soon. Sure enough, right after we returned from a vacation she had a meltdown complete with weird movements, altered skin sensations, visual and auditory hallucinations, and she was admitted again to a psychiatric unit for a week. She has been doing a "day hospital" thing since then but that is now ending. Her docs seem to thing she is doing wonderfully, however, they are not here to live with us and I believe their idea of "doing wonderfully" is simply that she is not currently suicidal, as far as anyone knows. Over this past semester while our little one was in special preschool, he missed a multitude of days that I didn't know about because she simply couldn't get herself up to take him. He would get up and apparently spend hours in his room with a wet or messy pullup until she felt able to tend to him at something like 10 or 11 in the morning. This is after me calling and calling in the morning to try and make sure she was getting up. If she did get him to school, I had to call to make sure she was picking him up...which she was very late doing frequently as well. Then she'd lay on the couch like a zombie until I got home and took over and she'd go to bed. Child care, older stepson care, supper prep, cleanup, whatever, fell to me. This is how it has been for some time. She cannot seem to play with him or clean up after him much of the time.

    I am trying to take steps to safeguard against these issues in the upcoming school year, but quite frankly, I don't even know if the relationship is going to last through the year. If it were not for my fears of losing my son to her custody, I might already be out of the relationship because I simply cannot keep up with her emotionally and mentally anymore. She's all over the place with manic phases and blowing money shopping, along with the irrational thought processing that comes with the borderline personality. The way I see it, if we're together, at least I can monitor him and his atmosphere every day and try to head off problems before they happen. I am worried that if we split, she would get a considerable amount of visitation and he'd actually be in worse shape that way than he is now. Still, this relationship has gone south in a hurry, we're more like roommates now, and he is seeing her going to the hospital or doctor all the time and now he is claiming to be sick and needing to go to the doctor on a daily basis now, trying to emulate her activities. Or he feigns sleeping on the sofa and says he's being mommy. I am concerned about a continuing issue with her not paying the attention to him that he needs as a small child and she often says she just can't provide. Although she will turn around and say that she feels she should have equal custody of him in the even that we did split. There is much more to the whole story, but I've tried to nutshell as best I can and still get the story across.

    So, my question here, dear readers, is what to do if conditions get to the point where I just have to say enough is enough and push forward with divorce? What's the possibility of me getting full custody of him? I am already providing the majority of his care and am fully comfortable in doing such. Is it possible for me to significantly limit her visitation? Or to permanently have them be supervised visitation only? She has left medications out before, and had episodes of basically passing out because of misuse of meds. I'm simply trying to do something, anything to not put him in that situation without me there to scout things out. I suggested putting him in latchkey this upcoming school year, but she threatened to take him and walk out and disappear if I tried to do that. Plus then I checked and all the local (small town) child care openings were filled. (btw, I have not yet spoken to a lawyer as I am using sites like this to gather information and be as informed as possible before I walk into a lawyer's office). What, if anything, can I do?

    thanks
    Do you have friends/family nearby who can assist in taking care of the child during the day? Definately there are neglect issues and safety issues there. What will you do with the child if you get primary custody? Start doing that now.

    File in court for Divorce & Custody. Request the court appoint a GAL or other advocate for your child. Provide the court with any/all evidence or documentation you have, and notify them of your wife's repeated hospitalizations and various diagnosis'. Hire an attorney if it is in any way possible...going Pro Se is difficult, at best.
  6. #6
    Yoda is offline Junior Member
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    Thanks for the replies. No, there aren't any close by relatives to assist. Her mother has helped while DW was in the hospital. Otherwise, the teenage stepson stays here during the day during the summer to try and make sure that his mother is taking care of the child. Once school starts, kindergarten is an all day one. She has to get up and get him ready for school and on the bus. This is our one weak point. I will be calling home from work to try and help this situation. I get home from work very early and will be here before he gets off the bus each day. I have already talked with them some prior to this, but I will be talking with the principal, school nurse, and his teachers before school starts and informing them that I am the primary contact this year for anything that is wrong during the day, and if he is not there they will be told to call me immediately. As far as hiring anybody to do anything, this would be rather difficult as we are pretty tight on the budget right now. A messy divorce would be sure to devastate both of us financially.
  7. #7
    casa is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yoda View Post
    Thanks for the replies. No, there aren't any close by relatives to assist. Her mother has helped while DW was in the hospital. Otherwise, the teenage stepson stays here during the day during the summer to try and make sure that his mother is taking care of the child. Once school starts, kindergarten is an all day one. She has to get up and get him ready for school and on the bus. This is our one weak point. I will be calling home from work to try and help this situation. I get home from work very early and will be here before he gets off the bus each day. I have already talked with them some prior to this, but I will be talking with the principal, school nurse, and his teachers before school starts and informing them that I am the primary contact this year for anything that is wrong during the day, and if he is not there they will be told to call me immediately. As far as hiring anybody to do anything, this would be rather difficult as we are pretty tight on the budget right now. A messy divorce would be sure to devastate both of us financially.
    Just know that if anything happens in her care...you knowlingly leaving the child there could result in you losing your child for failure to protect. The situation sounds like the child needs much more care/attention/monitoring than they are receiving....which can be dangerous.
  8. #8
    Yoda is offline Junior Member
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    btw...I didn't post it, but the MIL lives out of state.

    Anyway, yes, I've heard that before, but like I said, there is also a 16+ year old here at the same time. I suppose I'm hedging my bets here, but with all daycares already full to capacity and I don't personally know anyone right at this moment who could sit for us, and we don't really have any money to pay for much of this anyway, I'm kind of in that proverbial rock and a hard place. I intend on getting involved more in the school parental activities and trying to network there to find other parents who could possibly help or make recommendations for private sitters.

    Now, back to my original questions which were mainly more about how I would approach this in a divorce setting. Looking for input on if I should try and convince her ahead of time to agree to some kind of controlled visitation, or should I just simply let the legal folks handle it during the divorce, or what? This is my only child and I've never had any experience with this kind of thing. What would I likely be looking at in terms of arrangements given the circumstances?

    thanks
  9. #9
    CJane is offline Senior Member
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    Well, the truth is (as I see it) you aren't the primary caregiver in this case. Your wife is, as you work all day. She may be providing substandard care, and she may even be neglecting the child... but she IS the one there with him all day - her or the 16 year old. Essentially, what you're telling the courts when you leave her home alone all day long with this special needs child is that you have all the faith in the world that her parenting is adequate.

    Even with the various diagnoses, you might have a hard battle. You WILL need an attorney.

    As far as finances - if they're tight now, how do you propose to get divorced, win a custody battle (if she's as irrational as you claim, it could drag on FOREVER), and potentially pay CS? I'm being serious - my custody battle is into the hundreds of thousands if you add what my ex and I have both paid. A friend of mine (also in IL) is divorcing a woman with borderline personality disorder - it's been going on for 5 YEARS due 100% to her irrationality.

    I'm not saying all of this to discourage you, but only as a reality check. What you're proposing to embark on is not something to be taken lightly, and is not as simple as "She's mentally ill and I want the kid."
  10. #10
    Silverplum is offline Senior Member
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    CJane is totally right. Yoda, spend some time reading just here on these family law boards, and see what "Evil lurks in the hearts of men"...and in just as many women's hearts, as well.
  11. #11
    Yoda is offline Junior Member
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    I understand this, which is why I'm asking the questions. Again, the reason for the long initial story is to establish some sort of a timeline leading into my questions. She has been having problems for some time, but much has been slow in coming as to exactly what. At the start of this year, she has all her meds she's supposed to have and the word from the psych doc is that she is doing well. I did not know she stopped taking some of her meds along the way. Neither did I know about all the school absences. I called home religiously every day from work in the morning to make sure she was up and moving, and for as far as I could tell she was. However, it is now apparent - AFTER the school semester was over - that many times she did NOT make it after all. Again, I did not know this until early June. We then went on a vacation, came back, she had a meltdown (everything I have described about her is spot on, it's bad enough on its own that I have no need to embelish it), and was admitted to the hospital. For the past month since then, my MIL has been here, along with the wife and teenager, so no, she has not been the "primary" caretaker during that time. We now have a month until school starts and I sincerely do not have a readily available daycare option, as I have checked all of them and they are all full. The teenager is going to be here every day and the MIL will be on call to return if there are any significant problems. I am going to address things with the school as above for the upcoming year and I will be here with him when he gets home after school. So her primary care will be one hour in the morning...and mine will be from about 2:30 pm through the rest of the night. In my book, that makes me primary, but I don't know. Maybe only morning hours count. As far as finances go...yeah, we'd both be pretty much screwed with a messy divorce. Again, the reason why I'm asking questions to try and feel out which path is the more rational....leaving or staying.
  12. #12
    Yoda is offline Junior Member
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    yes, silverplum, that's been the unfortunate thing...I have been looking at other sites for a couple weeks, haven't had time to look around here much yet, but the common thing I'm finding is that to make the split would be extraordinarily trouble causing for me, and not result in a significant improvement in life for me or my son. It really sucks because I'm very tired of dealing with this....I mean, REALLY tired of it. I'm worn out. On the flipside, though, what if SHE decides to bail on me and I'm not ready????
  13. #13
    casa is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yoda View Post
    Thanks for the replies. No, there aren't any close by relatives to assist. Her mother has helped while DW was in the hospital. Otherwise, the teenage stepson stays here during the day during the summer to try and make sure that his mother is taking care of the child. Once school starts, kindergarten is an all day one. She has to get up and get him ready for school and on the bus. This is our one weak point. I will be calling home from work to try and help this situation. I get home from work very early and will be here before he gets off the bus each day. I have already talked with them some prior to this, but I will be talking with the principal, school nurse, and his teachers before school starts and informing them that I am the primary contact this year for anything that is wrong during the day, and if he is not there they will be told to call me immediately. As far as hiring anybody to do anything, this would be rather difficult as we are pretty tight on the budget right now. A messy divorce would be sure to devastate both of us financially.
    Poster, you need to petition the courts for a GAL, CASA or Minor's Attorney to represent your child- investigate the living situation- gather documentation- and advise the court on what is in the Child's Best Interest. This is the least expensive (still costly at times), but more accurate way to cut to the quick of this matter. *IMO*
  14. #14
    CJane is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yoda View Post
    I understand this, which is why I'm asking the questions. Again, the reason for the long initial story is to establish some sort of a timeline leading into my questions. She has been having problems for some time, but much has been slow in coming as to exactly what. At the start of this year, she has all her meds she's supposed to have and the word from the psych doc is that she is doing well. I did not know she stopped taking some of her meds along the way.
    So when she's medicated, she's fine? Or as fine as she gets? Safe with the kid?

    Neither did I know about all the school absences. I called home religiously every day from work in the morning to make sure she was up and moving, and for as far as I could tell she was. However, it is now apparent - AFTER the school semester was over - that many times she did NOT make it after all. Again, I did not know this until early June.
    Honestly? You can't really use absences during non-compulsory education against her. It was pre-school, right? Not required by the state? Didn't affect your child's ability to enter kindergarten? This could VERY possibly be seen as overly controlling/overbearing behavior on your part.

    Also, you not even being aware of your child's attendance, but then claiming it's important isn't going to reflect well on you.

    We then went on a vacation, came back, she had a meltdown (everything I have described about her is spot on, it's bad enough on its own that I have no need to embelish it), and was admitted to the hospital.
    What precipitated the melt-down?

    For the past month since then, my MIL has been here, along with the wife and teenager, so no, she has not been the "primary" caretaker during that time.
    Not being the primary caregiver for 'a month or so' does NOT negate the fact that she WAS prior to this time.

    We now have a month until school starts and I sincerely do not have a readily available daycare option, as I have checked all of them and they are all full. The teenager is going to be here every day and the MIL will be on call to return if there are any significant problems.
    Sounds like a well thought out plan. And reinforces your faith that your wife, with the help of the 16 year old that if you split up she'd have custody of, is capable of caring for the younger child.

    I am going to address things with the school as above for the upcoming year
    Actually, the way you've stated that you'll 'address the issue' with the school could also come across as overly controlling and overbearing. You don't really have a right to remove mom from the equation as a contact in emergencies, nor will the school likely have time to call you every time the child is tardy.

    and I will be here with him when he gets home after school. So her primary care will be one hour in the morning...and mine will be from about 2:30 pm through the rest of the night.
    No, from 230pm through the night, you're BOTH THERE.

    In my book, that makes me primary, but I don't know. Maybe only morning hours count.
    What counts is who keeps the child for the majority of his awake/mobile hours. Right now - at least until school starts - that's mom. After school starts, mom will be responsible for getting him up, feeding him breakfast, getting him on the bus/off to school, picking him up if he's ill, keeping him on holidays/long weekends while you work, determining if he's too sick to attend school, etc.

    As far as finances go...yeah, we'd both be pretty much screwed with a messy divorce. Again, the reason why I'm asking questions to try and feel out which path is the more rational....leaving or staying.
    No one can answer that for you.

    You have a case for primary custody. You don't (IMO) have a case for limited visitation, or supervised visitation, or anything of the sort.

    AND... spun properly, mom could easily take these behaviors that you're engaging in in an effort to protect/safeguard your son and make it sound like you are so demanding and exacting and like nothing is ever quite good enough, and YOU engage in behavior that precipitates her breakdowns.
  15. #15
    Yoda is offline Junior Member
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    So when she's medicated, she's fine? Or as fine as she gets? Safe with the kid?
    I was going by what the psych doc told me to expect. I asked about her abilities overall and they indicated no concerns. This was in the early stages of understanding what was going on.

    Honestly? You can't really use absences during non-compulsory education against her. It was pre-school, right? Not required by the state? Didn't affect your child's ability to enter kindergarten? This could VERY possibly be seen as overly controlling/overbearing behavior on your part.

    Also, you not even being aware of your child's attendance, but then claiming it's important isn't going to reflect well on you.
    Well, the preschool is sponsored by the local school district and he was to be receiving therapies while attending to assist in getting him up to speed with the rest of his age students. He was only there because he qualified through the evaluations of multiple therapists associated with the school system.

    I was not aware because as far as I was told by my wife, he was attending regularly. I asked every day how his day was and what he did at school. He didn't miss 75% of the days, but he did miss close to a month's worth over the course of the semester. Again, though, if my wife told me he went, my son was not real good at the time at relaying to me exactly what he did during his day, and I saw no mailings or phone messages from the school regarding his attendance, I had no reason to question the issue. I even went to a group meeting including the principal, teachers, and all the therapists and nobody said one word to me wondering why he was missing so many more days than before.

    Actually, the way you've stated that you'll 'address the issue' with the school could also come across as overly controlling and overbearing. You don't really have a right to remove mom from the equation as a contact in emergencies, nor will the school likely have time to call you every time the child is tardy.
    Nobody is "removing" her, I am making myself the primary contact. I have just as much right to be the primary as she does...and would most likely be easier to contact. She does not react quickly or decisively in emergency situations. And I can even very easily be there waiting for him if he were to be hurt badly or sick, as I work at the local children's hospital. She would still be on the contact list, I would simply be the primary now. The school system is small, and I think they would be willing to accomodate a person or two who had concerns about making sure their child was getting to school. I'm sure before that they just simply thought I was aware that he didn't go, so they didn't say anything.

    And why does it seem that in most any thread I've read on these topics that when a woman decides she's going to take control of a situation she is "empowering" herself, but when a guy does it, it's controlling and overbearing? I almost never hear those words used to describe a woman's actions.

    No, from 230pm through the night, you're BOTH THERE.
    90% of the time, she goes upstairs to bed as soon as I get home and does not get up again until about 9 pm or so, if at all. My stepson would attest to this. We don't see much of her in the evenings.

    AND... spun properly, mom could easily take these behaviors that you're engaging in in an effort to protect/safeguard your son and make it sound like you are so demanding and exacting and like nothing is ever quite good enough, and YOU engage in behavior that precipitates her breakdowns.
    And the response to this would be to do what instead?

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