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“Should I talk my boyfriend out of taking his ex back to court?”

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  • This topic has 6 replies, 1 voice, and was last updated 5 days ago by avatarbrise.
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  • #891288 Reply
    Dear WendyDear Wendy

    From a LW:

    “I (44F) live with my boyfriend (48M) and we each share custody of our children with our respective ex-es. My boyfriend, “Dan,” would like to have more time with his kids and I absolutely support him. He has less than 50/50 custody. I worry though that he is looking for excuses to take his ex to court that aren’t going to get him anywhere. I don’t know her well but her children love her. She likes to be the center of attention and sometimes takes it too far. The latest example came last week. Dan’s youngest son had been staying with us. He was supposed to go back to his mom’s on Wednesday but Dan texted her to ask if he could stay through the weekend. She said that was fine but when the son called her later that day she tried to make him feel guilty for missing out on family time. He said he would call her the following day and she yelled that he never calls her (definitely not true) and hung up on him. He was rightfully upset and that made my boyfriend furious. It is not the first time she has done that and the result is that it sends the kids into a scramble to make her happy again. I suspect this is her end goal. It is shitty but my gut says that this is not abuse and if my boyfriend takes her to court over these little issues it is going to backfire on him. It was a nasty divorce and they both behaved badly (long before I was in the picture) and some of that old stuff might be brought up against him. The whole thing will just turn into a back and forth accusing each other of being bad parents.

    I haven’t said anything to try to talk him out of going back to court because I am not sure if I am off-base or not. Is this abuse? These types of incidents happen maybe once a month. It is manipulative but I don’t know where the line is between crappy behavior and emotional abuse. If it is abusive then we should try to get custody.”

    #891302 Reply

    Why don’t y’all try to parent the kids who are right there with you, instead of trying to control the ex? Tell the kids, not the ex. Tell them mom acts this way sometimes, but there isn’t any need for them to try to placate her, that it’s okay if they just go on with their weekend without guilt. Teach them something really valuable — how to sidestep manipulation. Don’t call her names or anything, just deal in facts and help them.

    That will be far more effective than more court battles and lawyer fees.

    #891307 Reply

    Why do you think he wouldn’t get anywhere revisiting the custody agreement? If you 100% support him, what is the harm with him consulting with his lawyer and getting a good recommendation of what he should do next, if anything? Explain your fears when you’re talking about this and be supportive. Him having more custody would be good for them and him, too.

    I can’t say whether this is in the abuse territory but it sounds pretty close to emotional abuse in a sense. Maybe you guys could consult a child psychologist and ask to tips on what you can do to model appropriate behavior and discuss these temper tantrums she has with the kids in a way that’s fair to everyone and doesn’t cause additional drama.

    She’s manipulating her children to feel sorry for her and for attention, and that seems really wrong to me. And it could absolutely affect their relationships in the future. When you’re given a bad model of how adults behave, you grow up many times dismissing red flags and ending up in bad situations or possibly even replicating her weird manipulative power plays.

    #891309 Reply

    I think it would be in the kid’s best interest if their parents avoided court. If the parents have a relationship where they can work out custody themselves that’s always best. The mom sounds like a piece of work, but not to the level that she should be stripped of custody. That would be far more traumatic than the bullshit she’s pulling now. I like FYIs suggestion of teaching the kids healthy ways to side step manipulation. But that has to be done carefully and by their bio parent, IF he can refrain from saying anything negative about the mom. You should point out how peaceful your lives are now, how court would disturb that, and ask him if the outcome would be worth it. Especially if he doesn’t get the outcome he wants

    #891310 Reply

    She gave him more time with the kids when she did not have to. No parent is perfect. The fact that you are worried that she might bring up his past behavior is telling. He might loose some time with his kids in a custody fight. Going to court is like rolling the dice. I suggest he be especially nice to the ex. Thank her for letting him have the kids when it was her time to have them. Send her a gift card to Starbucks or something. You get more flies with honey than vinegar. Lawyers are expensive. The money would be better spent on saving for college or a vacation for the family somewhere exotic

    #891315 Reply
    avatarMiss MJ

    Yeah, I wouldn’t advise going to court over this. You’ll just disrupt a parenting situation that is largely working, disrupt the kids’ lives, likely ultimately achieve little to nothing and it’ll cost you a fortune. Mainly because as shitty as this is, it’s not likely to be a material change in circumstances that would result in modified custody, but you’d have to subject the kids to evaluation and court hearings and maybe even testify, which is horrible for them.

    A better alternative is for the kids to start counseling, if they’re not already, and probably include parental or maybe even co-parenting counseling, too, that is designed to address these issues. That’s the best way to peacefully stop the damage that she is doing by engaging in this hopefully misguided and unintentional emotional manipulation of her kids. Because this shit is definitely damaging. But so is a custody battle. And in this case, I think the court battle would be worse.

    #891343 Reply

    The matter is delicate, but how about respecting the custody agreement? You cite a case where your family tried to get more days than the custody agreement, through the child who asked his mum. I find this process not so great. Of course he feels guilty. I understand though the wish (the need) for your partner to see more of his child, or for the kid to spontaneously stay some more time with his father.
    But then, why not reopen more honestly a negociation with the mother, through a mediator (not in court)? Maybe she would be open to some more days once a month, or so, now that the divorce battle has lost its most acute tension?
    Your BF can at least ask the opinion of his lawyer.
    I a not sure that going to court and fight over this will be going a long way. There might be an other argument in your potential favor: the kid’s opinion. Maybe, according to his age, his choice will be now taken in consideration. But that opens a big field for manipulation…
    All in all, my take: either comply with the agreement, without trying to grab little pieces, or negociate with a mediator without fighting in court. In case the mother becomes defensive, retreat.
    Or, follow FYI’s advice. Perhaps the path of least resistance, if the mother becomes a bit more relaxed about the schedule.

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