Advice please! Medical neglect and visitation

mattie_gtApril 19, 2010

Hi everyone, I'm hoping some of the more experienced SM's here might be able to give my DH and me some advice. A quick background: I'm a fairly new SM to SS17 and SS8. My DH has had primary custody for about six years, long before I met him. Shortly after I moved in, BM failed to return SS17 from a visitation. After a great deal of thought, DH decided to let SS17 stay with BM, where he's been for the past 18 months or so. (SS17 said he wanted to graduate high school with his childhood friends; DH had moved away from that area for work.)

Fast forward though 18 months of lies, deceit, irresponsibility, manipulation, etc. to now....

We took SS8 to pediatrician who did an EKG, recommended echocardiogram, now he has to go see pediatric cardiologist. We are horribly worried, and on edge, as you can imagine. Meanwhile, SS17's report card arrived this weekend. We see that along with appalling grades, he has missed 8 days of school in the past nine weeks, for a total of 18 days this year (so far). When DH asked BM what was going on, she said that he had been complaining of stomach pains. When he asked if SS17 had seen a doctor, she hemmed and hawed and eventually said no. Turns out that she had not bothered to renew his state-subsidized health insurance and he's been without insurance (and not seen a doctor nor dentist) for the past year and a half! DH then called the school nurse who said that SS17 had been in complaining of pains, and she not only told him he needed to go to the doctor but sent home information about free clinics - not only was he still not taken, DH knew NONE of this until today.

DH is livid, and is trying to force BM to get some coverage for SS17 and get him to the doctor. Meanwhile, he says, he is not going to allow SS8 up there with his health issues right now, because he cannot trust BM - not just is she neglectful, but has repeatedly lied to him about serious issues. The court order says visitation "as agreed upon". DH says that he will offer her visitation, supervised by him, until we get back into court because he just cannot chance it with her track record.

Any advice would be appreciated. I'm so tired and scared right now. I feel like DH and I are running around trying to plug leaks in dikes; every time we feel that we are getting things under any form of control at all BM pops up like in some horrible game of whack a mole or something.

Thanks in advance.

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SS17 could see a doctor without a coverage, just pay cash, regular doctor's visit is not that expensive. Could dad get SS to the doctor himself? Even if out of state? He could fly there and take him to the doctor.

Yes he could file for changes in visitations showing that BM neglects kids' health. Is she crazy???

As about 17-year-old, unless he is disabled, I don't think you could say BM "failed to return him". At this age it is hard to force anyone to go anywhere, he wanted to stay with mom. Now why? She probably lets him do whatever and he has a lot of freedom.

I am surprised that if he is suffering from pains why didn't he tell his dad? Do they have good relationship? Talk on the phone?

My advice to talk to SKs that they need to inform their father about health issues and also yes talk to the attorney in regards to change in visitations for a little one.

I hope SS8 visit to a cardiologist goes well and it is nothing to worry about. Hugs

    Bookmark   April 20, 2010 at 6:04AM
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Personally, with what you have posted, I don't see enough "neglect" to qualify for supervised visitation.

I don't think he is going to be able to adequately tie in SS17 missing school for stomach pains as medical neglect and as a reason why her visitation needs to be supervised with SS8. I think using the court order language "as agreed upon" to unilaterally turn Moms visitation into supervised visitation without sound reasoning will make Dad look crazy and haunt him in court, but that's just my opinion. From what I can tell, courts want parents to work it out together and if there is abuse, there needs to be rock solid proof. So basically going in there, without even giving Mom a chance for visitation with her son after the medical issues are diagnosed....not really going to fly.

Dad is also going to have to explain letting SS17 live with Mom when he was the one with custody (or residential custody.) As far as I can tell, these things aren't taken lightly. I don't think your DH is going to come out looking pretty according to what you've posted.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2010 at 9:27AM
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Thanks finedreams.

Yes, if SS17 does not get to a doctor this week, DH is going to drive up there and take him himself. I didn't mean to make it sound like SS17 did not want to be at BM's; he did. Our frustration was the way she did it; nothing was said to DH (or SS8) by SS17 or BM beforehand, one weekend she just returned SS8 and informed DH that SS17 would be staying with her. SS8 promptly began having nightmares where he would be "stolen" by his BM and couldn't get home. We have him in counseling; she actually did that with SS8 twice already, when he was a toddler. It's one of the reasons that her visitation was already so limited instead of the EOW/alternating holidays that it had been.

As you suspected, there are no rules and much freedom. There is also a great deal of "Don't tell your father or Mommy will get into trouble and you won't be able to live here/visit" going on, according to SS8. SS17 did say something to us, but it was in such an off-hand manner with no mention of how long it had been going on or that he'd missed school, that unfortunately we didn't ask detailed questions. SS17 has less than nine weeks left in high school, and we really don't want to have to remove him from there unless absolutely necessary; we will, of course, make sure he gets medical attention.

As to whether BM is crazy, I don't know. She definitely seems to be living in some fantasy land where good things will happen just because, well, I guess if you wish hard enough or something. In addition to the fact that she seems to have no morals and views other people, especially the kids, as pawns to be used in her ongoing battle against everyone, it's just not a good situation.

Thanks for listening.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2010 at 9:47AM
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Hope the SSs turn out ok medically, scary stuff with all the test for SS8.

Has DH talked with the school (not just the nurse)? A student with that number of absent days and no Dr. excuse would be having troubles in my school district. Kids can lose credits with like 12 days here and certain cases have had to be heard before the board to decide individual cases even with documented medical reasons.

Are they talking summer school for the SS17?

Does the BM know that she can take the son to an ER (after normal office hours of course) even if she has let the medical card lapse? No hospital will turn a minor away at 2 am with stomach area pains without at least doing routine test for causes, they'd not chance something very serious being wrong. They'd also have staff that would direct the BM/SS to ways to pay for services or pushing case through agencies... in any case, a non-profit hospital will not toatlly deny services, especially to a minor with an undiagnosed internal pain, but BM may have to really work with them to obtain necessary services. Why did she allow supplemental to lapse?

Sounds like it's pouring at your house, good luck to you.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2010 at 10:13AM
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Nivea, you said "I don't think he is going to be able to adequately tie in SS17 missing school for stomach pains as medical neglect". To clarify, he has missed 18 days of school this year; he has seen the school nurse who not only strongly recommended a doctor but sent home information on free clinics; he has not seen a doctor, dentist nor ophthalmologist in the past 18 months, and he has had no health insurance even though it would be of no cost to BM and all she had to do was renew it, and she has repeatedly lied to DH about it all.

As to why SS17 was allowed to remain, attorney said that due to his age (at that time, 16), that there was a fairly strong chance that he would be allowed to remain there. The option was to either spend thousands of dollars fighting a probably losing battle (and please remember that that would have been money not spent on SS8) or to let him go. Neither one was a good choice; DH did what he thought was best at that time.

I didn't get into detail in my posting but we are not talking about a reasonable person who can be worked with; we are not talking about a BM who faithfully visits/allows visitation. DH is not just trying to be a jerk who is looking for an excuse to keep a good mother from SS8.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2010 at 10:21AM
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Thank you, justmetoo.

Apparently his school has an attendance policy but it is for absences in specific classes, and not total days. For whatever reason the teachers do not seem to really enforce it; DH has access to and checks his grades online (unfortunately they don't update them all that often, so he was completely caught off-guard this time). But his absences in individual classes are still under the allowable total (even though that does not appear possible, but at this point why borrow trouble?) I guess teachers are loathe to fail seniors just for exceeding allowable absences, but that is just a guess. He's a bright kid and so can bring his grades up to at least finals of passing if he wants to.

No idea what BM was thinking, if anything. All she had to do was send renewal paperwork so no idea why she didn't. Yes, she's aware that he would have been treated; there was an issue last year where another relative up there took SS17 to ER and called down here trying to get insurance information because BM could not be reached. At that time she assured DH that he did have insurance and she would be contacting hospital to see that they got the information.

I am just so angry and worried right now. We should be concentrating on SS8 and not be distracted by SS17's ongoing health/school issues. That's not that I mean that I don't want him to get treated ASAP as well; I'm just so upset that something that should have been taken care of months ago got dumped onto DH at this time.

Thanks for letting me vent. I felt sometimes like I was the only one in these situations until I found this site.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2010 at 1:00PM
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"I didn't get into detail in my posting but we are not talking about a reasonable person who can be worked with; we are not talking about a BM who faithfully visits/allows visitation. DH is not just trying to be a jerk who is looking for an excuse to keep a good mother from SS8."

I'm not saying he's being or trying to be a jerk. I just don't think it's a good idea. I'd ask his lawyer if I was your DH before making any moves and I would probably switch lawyers from the last one he consulted with regarding SS17. But, again just my opinion.

You would, or rather, DH would have the burden to prove much of what you've posted and take the chance that a judge will agree with him on a lot of he said/she said, hearsay etc. And hope the judge doesn't get irritated with that in the first place. At the same time Dad will have to explain why he let SS17 live with Mom when he had custody if she was this irresponsible. And I don't think the explanation that a lawyer said there was not much to do about it is going to be enough. They're going to want to know why SS17 left, what was wrong in the home, why he doesn't have the relationship with SS17 that a custodial parent should have etc.

As well, Dad is going to have to have one dang good case for the Judge to show why he chose supervised visitation for SS8/Mom when nothing has even happened with SS8 and Mom yet concerning the new diagnoses.

But Mom will have the ultimate visitation interference charge on Dad that is easily provable and one of the few changes in circumstances that will overturn custody.

I think your DH is playing with fire.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2010 at 1:11PM
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now as I thought some more, I think it might not be a good idea to give mom full custody of SS8 (not like she asks) but supervised visitations is too extreme. Unless judge says so.

I do find somewhat strange that SS17 simply left without any explanation or previous discussion. There might be more to the story...

    Bookmark   April 20, 2010 at 4:53PM
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The only thing "wrong" in the home was SS17 wanted to go back to his hometown as he didn't like living where DH was working and where we still live; DH told him that we could not both quit our jobs and pull SS8 out of school to move two hours away just because he wanted it. His wanting to go back to his small town friends really didn't seem completely unreasonable, other than the way it was handled. BM had been behaving reasonably normally for quite some time back then (calling, showing up for visitations, etc.) I'm sure living with BM as only child in home versus sharing time with younger brother and new SM was a factor as well.

My big fear is that DH will get in trouble for withholding visitation. At the same time, I'm in terror that if SS8 goes up there and something goes wrong it will be ignored; and then what? BM doesn't get visitation but there's some permanent damage done and we get to say we told you so?

I feel like we are constantly trying to choose between two not-good scenarios; do we get SS17 back here and pull him out almost at the end of senior year? Do we let SS8 go to visit with a health problem knowing that she is ignoring SS17's health, or not let him go and hope that judge understands why?

I'm overwrought worrying about tomorrow. I'm going to go read to SS. Thanks for all the advice and kind words.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2010 at 6:17PM
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DH has no rights to withhold visitations, if he is that concerned he should call his attorney first. it is only 2 hours away, I mean not like he sends his son to China. How bad could that be all of a sudden? Now after all those years? Afraid to send his son?

    Bookmark   April 20, 2010 at 6:39PM
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"We took SS8 to pediatrician who did an EKG, recommended echocardiogram, now he has to go see pediatric cardiologist. We are horribly worried, and on edge, as you can imagine."

I think this is why it's "all of a sudden" he's afraid to send his son.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2010 at 10:22AM
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Great news! Pediatric cardiologist said that all will be well. Thank God. There is an abnormality in his heart but unless he is having dizzy spells or fainting or shortness of breath, which he is not, that it is just something that exists and should have no effect on his life. Apparently his EKG range was abnormal if he would have been an adult, but was still within normal range for a child.

I'd like to thank all of you so much for your advice and support. I talked to DH last night and he agreed that it was best to not go off half-cocked, and to at least wait until we went to the specialist today. Now I can see why most people thought we were behaving unreasonably with visitation; we were just so panicked and wanted to protect him. Thank you all for being the voices of reason.

Next comes getting doctor's appointment and health insurance for SS17; while that is reasonably urgent we are not so panicky that it's not going to be something that can't be corrected.

Thanks again.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2010 at 11:11AM
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Good news!

Does SS8 have mitral valve prolapse? From what you described sounds like one.

Hopefully both kids get medical attention they need. That's always a relief.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2010 at 6:58PM
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It's Patent Foramen Ovale (or PFO, as the doctor called it.) The original pediatrician described it as a hole in the heart, which technically I guess it is, but that phrasing just sent us into an absolute panic.

BM says she applied for health insurance and SS17 will be coming down this weekend so DH can ask him more about how he is feeling (you cannot reach a 17 year old on the home phone except during hours when working adults are sleeping, I think!) So all is nice and peaceful here; I love it!

    Bookmark   April 22, 2010 at 10:09PM
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That's good news, Mattie :)

    Bookmark   April 23, 2010 at 2:49PM
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