Adoption post got me thinking...

lovehadleyFebruary 23, 2009

Does a custody/visitation agreement ever become null and void?

My DD was born in 2002. She will be 7 in a couple months. Her dad saw her once--well, kind of twice. He flew to our state (at MY cost, I bought him a plane ticket b/c I badly wanted him to see her!) when she was 6 months old and stayed in town for 3 nights. Two months later, he wanted to come back and see her, so I (again) purchased a plane ticket for him and he flew in town and stayed for ONE night and freaked out and left the next morning---changed his return date, and told me he just "couldn't handle it."

I drove him to the airport early in the morning--dropped him off. He kissed her, and said he would call. That was the last I heard for years!

I filed a paternity suit shortly thereafter---mostly, because I wanted to DOCUMENT that HE knew about her and it was HIS choice to not be involved. I had fears of him coming back in her life when she was older and saying "oh, well, I didn't know she existed."

It was a long process becuase he dragged his heels every step of the way through the court process. HE insisted on a DNA test and so he was ordered to pay for it. Of course, he stalled on that for months. Finally, he paid the $400. My DD and I went in immediately and were both tested. He dragged his feet and it took the judge telling his attorney (remember, he lives in another state) that he'd be held in contempt if he didn't comply and go in for his test. So he finally did that---as we BOTH knew, he was the dad. He then ignored his attorney's phone calls and letters for months, and the judge finally said if he didn't respond to his attorney within 30 days, we would get a default judgement. His attorney sent him a letter (and a copy to my attorney) saying he was going to withdraw his legal representation. So finally, he complied and cooperated with his attorney and basically said he wanted NOTHING. I said I was happy to forgo c/s just to get the jerk out of our life, but the judge REFUSED to not set an amount, however minimal. Anyway, he has never paid it---I think I got a random check for $37 at some point. There's been a wage garnishment in place for years but he has switched jobs so many times...I also have a tax intercept in place, but apparently, he either never gets a refund or has not filed his taxes.

I know from his sister, who I speak to once or twice a year, that he got a 2nd DWI and spent some time in a work-release jail program, lost his driver's license, etc. Last I heard, it was last summer, I talked to his sister for one of our annual "catch-ups" and she said he'd lost his truck after his stint in work-release and had to move back home with his dad, and that he was only seeing his other DD once a month, due to lack of transportation. I do know her mom remarried years ago, had two other children and moved about 2 hrs away. As far as I know, they have never gone to court.

I mean, really, the guy is just not a good or responsible adult. He is 31 years old. I seriously could care less that he's not in my DD'd life. Frankly, I think she is better off.

I did visit his state when DD was 3, almost 4 years old (I have family there) and I called him, left him a voicemail and told him she was in town and if he wanted to see her/spend time with her, he could. I did meet up with his much older sister and her kids for an afternoon at the zoo. Grandma and "dad" refused to come. Grandma at least had the decency to call me back and say that she felt it would be too emotionally difficult to see my DD, only to have us go back to our home state. I don't really "get it" but I respect her decision and appreciate her at least TELLING me that. I've not heard from her in the nearly 7 years that it's been since DD was born.

He never bothered to even return my call. Over the years, I've even emailed him pics once a year or so, and he never, ever responds. Short of that, I don't feel there is anything else I should do.

Haha, he called me last summer, totally out of the blue---all sugary sweet. I about passed out when he called because I had not talked to him since 2003! I immediately thought "what the h*ll does he want" and he proceeded to ask me if I would sign a document "forgiving" the back child support he owes and send it to the state. Apparently, he was trying to get some job at a bank, and they would not hire him with back child support on his credit. He "promised" me he would set up an automatic payment to me from his bank account and would pay back all the arrears ($3500) and pay currently every month. Yeah, considering that he has NEVER done that in 6 years, WHY would he start now? BUT in order for him to get this job, I had to sign some certified letter stating that he no longer owed me the back support. HAHA. STUPID I am not. I told him no way, sorry, if you need the money to pay back the c/s, go borrow it from someone but don't ask me to sign anything like that ever again. I was LIVID that he would ask me and then he hung up on me---not ONCE did he bother to ask how our DD is doing or ANYTHING about her.

So--my question is--in our court papers, I have full physical and legal custody. He has "reasonable visitation" in my state IF he gives me 3 weeks notice and if the time is "mutually agreeable." He also has "reasonable telephone access." There is also a line in there, at the end, that MY attorney insisted on putting in, that says something along the lines of "respondent states he forsees no future involvement with his child."

So, hypothetically speaking, if he were to call me NOW and say "hey, I want to see her, I'm coming to your city..."

Do I have to say yes or can I say take me back to court? It seems to me, after so long, that it would not be best for him to just appear---and if he ever chose to do so, we would have to proceed carefully, and have her get to know him over a period of time.

I SERIOUSLY NEVER see that happening. He hasn't contacted me and I really believe in my heart that he won't. He has an older DD in his state who he sees sometimes and I think he pretends she is his only child; pretty much to him--my DD has never been "real" to him and I think it's an "out of sight, out of mind" thing. He wasn't there for her birth, never bonded with her.....she just isn't "there" in his mind. I doubt he thinks about her much. I don't even really fault him for that---she's never been a real person to him.

I know (or think) at some point my DD will want to contact him and I am okay with that. (I'd be lying if I said it didn't bother me...but...) I know it is her right and I think it will either work out one of two ways: 1) he will be the SAME and she will see what a loser he is and not have much in common with him and not want much to do with him or 2) he will have turned his life around and be different, and they will forge a relationship and it will be GOOD. If 1 happens, my only hope is that my DD is able to work through that emotionally. If 2 happens, I think that will be GREAT.

So either way it will (hopefully) be okay. Everything happens for a reason, right?

Anyway, I was just wondering about the whole custody/court thing.

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I tend to think there is really not must risk of him showing up. I would insist that anyone with recent DWIs not be allowed to drive my child, or have a car equipped with breathalyzer starter prevention system.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2009 at 3:03PM
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I wouldn't worry that he'll show up. he won't. he might show up once to see her but it is unlikely he will become involved parent, sounds like a jerk.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2009 at 3:40PM
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When my son's dad stopped seeing him when he was 12, I filed papers to complain that he was not seeing his son per the order. That was because I would have to get my son ready and he would be waiting to be picked up and then when his dad didn't show or called at the last minute to cancel, there were tears and an upset kid. Eventually, after a couple of hearings where his dad had been served but didn't show for the hearings to explain why he was missing his visits, the Judge granted me sole legal & physical and suspended visitation. The Judge said that if he wanted to resume visitation, his dad would have to file papers.

If your current order says he can visit as long as he gives notice, then that is the order. If he gives notice, you 'legally' can't say "take me back to court" although after this long, I would! Then he would have to explain to the court why he has not seen his child in years... not something he will want to do.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2009 at 6:38PM
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We actually just asked our attorney this a few weeks ago...BM hasn't seen SD in a year and half.....we wanted to know if she could just pop out of the blue and demand her visitation, we don't feel comfy sending SD off with a "stranger" for a week or two, they don't know each other any more. He said it was perfectly reasonable to tell her that if she wanted visitation, it would need to be slowly introduced, and to not just hand her over, we would file in court and have visitation amended.....Thats just our scenarie and what we fully intend to do if we are ever contacted....

    Bookmark   February 23, 2009 at 10:05PM
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