Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“My Ex Wants To Bring Her New Drug-Dealer Boyfriend Around Our Son”

My girlfriend and I have split up after three years. We have a 1-1/2 year old son. We split up because I am emotionally detached and she is an extremely emotional person. The breakup was 75% my fault and I accept that. I know what’s wrong with me and I have been seeking help. It’s been about two months since we split, and she is seeing someone new who has been in and out of the court system and is a known alcoholic and drug user and uses women and chucks them, so to speak. She hasn’t let him around my son or my stepdaughter yet, which is good, but after two weeks of her seeing him she’s talking about letting him around them.

I know I don’t have a say about who can go around the stepdaughter, but I want her to be safe as well. I don’t trust this guy (I have known who he is for many years). I told my ex that I do not feel comfortable with a person like this around my son. It has nothing to do with heartbreak or my being spiteful — we still get along very well; I’m just extremely concerned with this guy around my son because of the bad person that he is. My ex is clouded because she says that he’s cuddly and so on, but she’s not looking at the bigger picture. I would like advice on what my options would be at this point if she doesn’t respect that I don’t want a drug dealer around the kids? — Worried Dad

For your question, I turned to our resident family law guy, Guy Friday, and this is what he says:

First of all, depending on what state you’re in, you may not have any rights PERIOD at the moment despite being the known biological father of the child, even if the mother isn’t disputing it. In many states a child who is not the product of a marriage requires the filing of a paternity action so that the court can legally adjudicate you as the father of the child. Granted, if no one is claiming you’re not, the process is pretty quick, but it still means they set mandatory child support and visitation (though those could be “held open”, meaning no court action is taken and it’s on you two to figure out what’s fair.)

Second, assuming my first point has been resolved and you’re legally the father with all the rights and obligations that go with it, you have a few options, though all of them are likely to damage the “getting along” you have with your ex. One option, if you think your son is in immediate danger, is to call Child Protective Services. They can investigate, and certainly the presence of controlled substances in the house or evidence of neglect would warrant removal of the child, be that placement with you, a relative, or a foster parent while the situation is sorted out. Another option is to bring a petition to the court seeking to modify placement, with the argument being that the child is in a dangerous situation in that home and that increased time with you is in the “best interests” of the child. This will likely require the appointment of a Guardian Ad Litem — a lawyer whose job it is to argue for what is BEST for the child rather than what each of you WANTS — and you or she might end up hiring a lawyer to help represent your side. Needless to say, it can get pricey, and many states still defer to the mother when the child is very young. Finally, I suppose you could wait it out and see if the relationship falls apart anyway, which many do when you’re dealing with those kinds of problems; it’s possible that your ex is aware of the risks and is taking steps to mitigate harm to the children that you just don’t see because you’re not around.

My advice to any potential client who walked in to my office in this situation would be the following: Do nothing now beyond documenting the date and time of any issues or concerns you have. Keep doing so until there is a tipping point, an incident that a reasonable neutral person would say constitutes a major concern for the child’s health. At that point, file the petition with the court. If it escalates, then and only then call Child Protective Services. But it is better to walk in to court being able to say “I tried to fix the problem before coming before you” and be able to show that than making it seem like you ran to court at the first disturbance.

Good luck, WD, and thanks for your insight and advice, Guy Friday.

***************

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If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy@dearwendy.com.

12 comments… add one
  • avatar

    carolann December 29, 2016, 10:52 am

    The ex sounds ultra needy.
    If I were LW I would pursue legitimacy a.s.a.p. that will make him look even more responsible and concerned for the child. Cps may help him do that if he can’t afford a lawyer. In my state they have programs to help men legitimize. (Another reason people should get married first and have kids later, but it’s too late for all that.)
    If the ex is as needy as she sounds she will probably try to spend as much time with the new guy as possible. (let’s hope she is smart enough not to try and make the new guy baby daddy #3 to try and keep him, lawd!) I would also tell the ex that if she wants time with the new guy that I (LW) would love to watch the kids. That way she can go play House without the kids getting exposed to the new guy. Hopefully it will burn out on it’s own since he has a rep of being a dog. If LW makes a big deal out of it,the ex may rebel against it. She doesn’t sound very mature.
    Write EVERYTHING down. If things get ugly, you will need it.
    I wouldn’t trust any alcoholic with my kids. People with alcohol issues lose their ability to reason and many bad things could happen. I don’t blame this guy for being concerned.

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  • avatar

    Howdywiley December 29, 2016, 12:15 pm

    This is such a hard situation. One of the biggest reasons I fear a breakup in my relationship. Who will come around my kids?

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  • avatar

    Ron December 29, 2016, 1:13 pm

    Good advice from Wendy and GuyFriday. I’ll voice a common complaint of mine. The title says the guy is a drug dealer. The text says he uses drugs. Really, this covers such a wide range of situations. Does he smoke pot? If that’s all is that such a big deal? It says he’s an alcoholic, based upon….?

    Awfully early for the ex to be bringing the new bf around the kids, but not sure that is LW’s call. His ex is the custodial parent. I can’t help but note that you do not mention being in your son’s life in any way: visitation, child support, baby sitting when mother asks.

    It is none of LW’s business whether or not his ex’s new bf has a habit of using and chucking the women in his life. His ex’s romantic life is hers and hers alone to manage. If she wants to risk a broken heart by dating a known chucker of gfs, that really is her decision and you have no right to voice an opinion. If you do voice an opinion, and I’m sure you have, it only makes you look jealous and colors any valid concerns you voice about the well-being of your son, because honestly, it sounds like you are trying to control her love life, which sounds like you are desperate to get back with someone who doesn’t want you back.

    It’s good that you get on well with your ex. Please limit your discussions with her to the welfare of your shared child and please pay your share of supporting said child.

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  • avatar

    Northern Star December 29, 2016, 1:45 pm

    A guy who’s been in and out of the court system is bad news. A guy who’s doing drugs and drinking and known as a woman-user would make anyone worry. Introducing him to her kids mere weeks after deciding to date him is short-sighted and stupid on your ex’s part. You’re not crazy or jealous when you think this situation has disaster written all over it.

    Unfortunately, you can’t do much about it. Follow the advice you’ve been given here. Good luck.

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  • avatar

    Tippytoo December 29, 2016, 4:57 pm

    I was able to write in a provision in our parenting plan that no significant others are to be introduced to our children until six months of dating exclusively and that the significant other must be introduced to the other parent before meeting our children. I am the primary parent so admittedly it makes dating much, much harder on me but it is worth it to help mitigate a revolving door of people in and out of my kids’ lives. Perhaps you could have some kind of similar legal agreement. If violated, I could take my ex to court on grounds of contempt.

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    • Guy Friday

      Guy Friday December 29, 2016, 10:50 pm

      That’s interesting. I don’t know where you are (and that’s not me fishing for you to tell me), but I know in my state that kind of provision would not only be unenforceable, but a court could actually approve the rest of the agreement while striking just that clause, which means if you negotiated other terms in return for that clause you’d be out of luck.

      Personally, while I appreciate the spirit behind that kind of thing, I’d never in a million years agree to a stipulation in a parenting plan like that. Let me play devil’s advocate for a moment. First of all, exclusivity is not in and of itself a marker of depth in a relationship, much as we’d hope otherwise. I could absolutely see a parent going on several first dates during that 6 month period while pursuing a second, third, etc. date with one person, and I could see that one person being appropriate to introduce the child to at that point despite a lack of exclusivity to that point. Second, when you have a term such as “exclusively” in a contract, you are just BEGGING for a lawyer like me to hit you with it, because, really, what does “six months of dating exclusively” mean? Does it start when you deactivate your dating profile? If you flirt with another guy on Facebook, does that start the clock over? How do you prove exclusivity using admissible evidence in court? It’s a vague term that is more likely to hurt than help. Third, saying “six months” is completely arbitrary. Honestly, my now-wife and I were pretty well committed within 3 or 4 months; had I had kids, I probably would have been comfortable introducing her to them. I’ve dated other women where a year in I wouldn’t have trusted them to meet my hypothetical kids (which says something about the relationship, sure, but you know what I mean.) And finally, the “making your ex introduce the new relationship to the other parent” thing . . . I mean, it doesn’t accomplish anything but provoke more awkwardness. If you don’t approve of them, it’s not like that matters. And, frankly, who your ex dates is none of the other parent’s business once they become an ex. Sure, you can say it’s about the kid, but you’re not asking to observe the new person with the kid; you want to meet them independently of that, which tells you nothing about what they’re like around your child.

      Oh, also, just as an aside: a lot of people talk about filing contempt motions against other parents, and courts HATE that. To be worthy of a finding of contempt, the actions would have to be “willful, negligent, and malicious.” It’s hard enough to find all three, but even if you can, then it becomes a question of “What exactly do you want the court to do in this situation?” Are we suggesting jailing a parent for breaking that rule? Fining them money that could otherwise be used for the child? Forbidding them from dating the new person (which I’m not even sure the court would have the legal authority to do)? All it ends up doing is promote hostility and rack up court fees for everyone, since a GAL has to be appointed. Frankly, mediation works better in 90% of the situations I’ve seen.

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  • avatar

    I wrote the post December 29, 2016, 6:36 pm

    I was the won that wrote the post and I wouldn’t care if it was pot. He smokes crack and does cocaine. Also I’m not in the states I’m in Canada but rules are pretty well identical. I have been documentating everything but honestly don’t think I could bring myself to take her to court unless it gets really bad

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    • avatar

      Ron December 30, 2016, 1:13 pm

      Crack and cocaine are serious and he shouldn’t be around your son.

      You still are ducking the issue of what you yourself do to support your son. Are you paying support? Are you spending time with him.

      You are right to be concerned about your son, but you also seem to be using him as a weapon to control your ex’s dating life and get back with her. Her current bf sounds not good for your son, but if you aren’t visiting and providing financial support, how good a guy are you?

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      • avatar

        Mike December 31, 2016, 9:55 am

        I watch my son and step daughter almost everyday as I’m waiting to go to college next month. She usually goes drinking at his house or stays at her house to drink. I know this Becuase everytime I come to her place there beer bottle and cigarette buts on the table and so forth. I’m not being jealous and just concerned for the kids. The step daughter who is 5 tell me she wants me to come home Becuase mommy is either always asleep or shit sits on her phone and dosnt play with her. My son sits in his play pen all day unless I’m there. It really bothers me that she is neglecting both children I have called her out on it and she just turns it around and tells me that I’m trying to make her feel like crap. So this feeling is brutal, I tell her I’ll watch the kids everyday and she can go out if that’s what she wants and that’s what happens.

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      • avatar

        Mike December 31, 2016, 9:55 am

        Also yes I provide finacial support and emotional support for both kids

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  • avatar

    saneinca December 30, 2016, 1:30 am

    A weird mail. LW, do you have any custody time with your son at all ? And what about your GF’s other daughter ? Does she have any custody time with her father ?

    If you don’t (and the same applies for your stepdaughter’s father ), then your ex girlfriend indeed seems to have dated some jems.

    Nevertheless the only thing you could do is ask her to wait for a while before introducing the new guy to the kids and offer to babysit as often as you can, so that she can go out with the new guy. Hopefully she will breakup with him soon enough . But I don’t think this will be the last time she ends up dating a wrong guy.

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    • avatar

      Mike December 31, 2016, 9:57 am

      I agree completely and I have been watching both kids everyday. While she goes out. I am also worrying about her Becuase she’s drinking quite often. She does have alot of problems from her past that she needs to deal with Aswell and she says she is but honestly I can’t see it.

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