Mediation Agmt

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Whiteheron

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Mediation Agmt
« on: August 19, 2019, 07:45:55 PM »
I was shocked when we actually reached an agreement in mediation last month. I didn't post about it because I didn't want to jinx it. stbx's L was drawing it up, and I just knew there would be little changes here and there. To my surprise, there weren't any. Weird.

It doesn't matter anyways - if you've read some of my other posts, you will know that one of the kids finally (after two years!) opened up to the GAL, who firmly states she does not and will not support the current custody arrangement. She informed the L's about this today. My L already knew, but stbx's L did not. My L received a panicked phone call from stbx's L accusing the GAL of going behind their backs and claims that the GAL was blowing up the entire deal. stbx's L is demanding to know what was talked about - he of all people should know this is privileged information and that I don't even know.

His L has already accused the GAL of going behind their backs in meeting with the kids. I've been accused of trying to undermine stbx's parenting by taking them to such meetings (as was their assumption). His L was sternly reprimanded by the GAL who essentially told him "don't tell me how to do my job." I can't post it here, but her response was perfect. And now he's accusing her (to my L at least) of going behind their backs yet again. Thing is, the kids won't meet with the GAL if their dad knows. That should send up some strong red flags right there.

Part of me is wondering if stbx's L thought he was done with stbx...and is now realizing that he is not. There will now be a meeting about custody. I am almost positive stbx will not budge and we will now be heading to trial in the fall. GAL is hoping against hope that stbx will do the right thing and take the kids' feelings into consideration. Umm, yeah. Not possible.

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athene1399

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Re: Mediation Agmt
« Reply #1 on: August 20, 2019, 09:57:43 AM »
I think this is great news, although it will probably get a little stressful at times. And the GAL is spot on with what she said. It is her job to represent the kids, not the parents. The kids. That is who she is looking out for. And if one of them is willing to talk, she will listen. And IME they can tell if the kid was coached to say whatever. SD's grandmother took her to the GAL behind our backs and we didn't care. The GAL knew BM was coaching her on what to say. She could tell by SD talking about legal stuff she shouldn't have known at that age and if a specific reason was needed, she just said "i don't know why, I just do." IMO stbx was blowing up the deal by making the kids too terrified to speak to the GAL in the first place. So his L should be mad at him and not the GAL for doing her job.
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Part of me is wondering if stbx's L thought he was done with stbx...and is now realizing that he is not.
You may be right about this. That's probably why the L is mad. But that's part of the problem hhaw brings up, the Ls seem to just want to settle and don't really care what is really going on.

I hope this works out for the kids. It sounded like they had a  lot of bad things going on at stbx's lately. Maybe discuss with the GAL and your L if a temp custody agreement can be done while you wait for things to go through trial (if stbx won't agree on things at the first meeting- especially since the kids may fear retaliation from him). I will be thinking of you and your family.  :bighug:


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Penny Lane

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Re: Mediation Agmt
« Reply #2 on: August 20, 2019, 02:09:32 PM »
Wow this is a real roller coaster for you. On one hand it's great that someone is finally seeing what's going on and is stepping in on behalf of the kids! On the other now you're facing a trial which is a huge time, energy and money drain.

I'm so glad your son spoke up. Now you will never have to worry about what might have been, if there was something else that could've been done for your kids.

So, you guys basically mediated keeping the current arrangement? And the GAL wants an arrangement where stbx has less time with the kids? Does she have a specific proposal? It seems to me that if a judge appoints a GAL they're going to take her word very seriously. I can't imagine a judge would order MORE time than what you mediated. So it's either the current situation or more restrictions on stbx, right?

This all seems like good stuff to me. But I know have a really hard road ahead of you in the short term. Sending you lots of strength and poise to get through this period of time as painlessly as possible so you can truly start your post-divorce life, hopefully with a lot more time with the kids!

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Whiteheron

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Re: Mediation Agmt
« Reply #3 on: August 24, 2019, 11:39:11 PM »
So yes, the GAL came up with a new custody recommendation that was discussed with both L's. This recommendation was made for both kids and essentially cuts stbx's current time in half. stbx's L called my L the other day and kept her on the phone for about 30 minutes ($$$), trying to bully her into bullying me into allowing DS to follow the reduced agreement and to allow DD to follow the current agreement - essentially splitting up the kids. My L told his L that I would never agree to two separate agreements so he told her "see you in court!" So my choice is to amend the mediation agreement to have the kids on separate custody schedules (DD would be horrified), or court.

Separating the kids is a no go. But that is how stbx works. Divide and conquer. He has a vacation week with the kids coming up and suggested he only take DD, and that I should ask DS if he wanted to go or stay with me that week. I refused to ask DS (that's a terrible position to put him in). I replied to his request by saying the kids should not be split up and that I assume both kids are looking froward to their vacation (both have told me they don't want to go). stbx did not like my response so called up his L and told him (according to my L) that I was preventing stbx from taking the kids on his vacation. His L was also demanding that we conference call with the kids (while they were with me on vacation) and ask them whether or not they wanted to go on vacation with him. So, to put them on the spot and essentially demand they choose me or him. Wtf is wrong with this man? To even suggest this?
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athene1399

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Re: Mediation Agmt
« Reply #4 on: August 26, 2019, 01:31:27 PM »
I am sorry, WH. IMO if he brings up the two separate agreements in court, I don't think a judge would approve that either (but honestly don't know for sure). Is his reasoning behind two agreements because there's evidence he only abused DS? And if that is his reasoning, I would hope a judge would find it a ridiculous reason to want more time with one kid. I hope stbx's crazy demands show the judge just how unreasonable he is. And by you saying "please take both kids on vacation" is "preventing" him from taking them? You're just not allowing him to play favorites and make the one child feel left out. I would think everyone else would see it that way. And his L demanding they get put on the spot like that sounds traumatic. If this L wants to hear anything from the kids it should go through the GAL IMO. The GAL is their representative. I am sorry they are making this difficult for you. It almost sounds like they are trying to make this stressful so you give in. I really hope this works out in the end if you chose to go to court. I can't see how stbx would win in court (in my opinion), especially with the abuse evidence.   

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Penny Lane

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Re: Mediation Agmt
« Reply #5 on: August 26, 2019, 02:47:44 PM »
You probably already know this but it sounds like he's spiraling because he was told no. Saying you won't let him take the kids on vacation - because you said he should take the kids on vacation - he's not making good or even rational decisions here.

I think he knows that the kids don't want to go on vacation with him, maybe he doesn't even want to go on the vacation anyway, and he's trying to make you the bad guy in his own mind.

In some ways this is a good thing - he's not pulling his FOTY act together even knowing that it'll probably go to court. But the flip side of that is trying to put you (and the kids) through hell between now and the trial.

Also, keep in mind that he might just be posturing and he might end up settling for what the GAL recommends at the last minute. That doesn't really help save on any court costs but it saves on the uncertainty of what judge might do.

It sucks, they don't deserve this, you don't deserve this and I'm so sorry you're all in for such a rough time. It does sound like things are about to get markedly better for the kids though. Hang in there.


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Whiteheron

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Re: Mediation Agmt
« Reply #6 on: August 26, 2019, 10:02:23 PM »
Just heard from my L. We will have to keep going with the current custody schedule until trial. Unless I can convince DD to speak with the GAL. Not sure how I feel about that. I've had the attitude of not pressuring the kids to do things they're not comfortable with - I assumed it would backfire if I pressured them to talk to the GAL. Now I'm feeling pressure to pressure DD...I HATE THIS SO MUCH! They all know he has a problem. They all know he is abusive towards the kids. WTF?? Now they need to hear it from a 12 year old girl?

The poor kids. DS is angry and says he can't trust me because he sees me as refusing to protect him from his dad. Both say stbx is getting worse and is just as bad, if not worse, than he was three years ago - when he was scary off the rails. I can't protect them unless I bully DD into doing something she's not comfortable with. I am beside myself.
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Poison Ivy

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Re: Mediation Agmt
« Reply #7 on: August 26, 2019, 11:15:00 PM »
I think there's a difference between bullying,  pressuring, and encouraging.  I don't think I've ever bullied my children.  I certainly have encouraged them to do things they don't want to do or feel uncomfortable doing.  I haven't always been successful in persuading them. But I don't think it was wrong to try. If you acknowledge your daughter's discomfort, assure her you won't force her to do this thing, and explain that it might help although you can't make any guarantees, encouraging her to talk to the GAL about her dad doesn't seem wrong to me, either.

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athene1399

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Re: Mediation Agmt
« Reply #8 on: August 27, 2019, 09:17:45 AM »
That is terrible, WH. I am sorry.   :(  I feel it is awful that they need to hear from her too. I feel they have put your kids in a bad place and are doing nothing about it. I am so sorry.

Maybe discuss with the L how long it will take if DD does speak with the GAL to get the temp agreement. Make it clear how terrified the kids are that they will open their mouths, then nothing will get done and they will have to live with the consequences unprotected. Then tell DD you are really trying to get a temporary order stating that you have the kids for more time and the only way to do that is if she speaks with the GAL, but that if she really doesn't want to do that she doesn't have to. And let her know what the L said about how long it will take to get the temp order in place. And I agree with Poison Ivy that you can't guarantee there will be a change, but if it will happen it will take x amount of time. That still gives her the choice, but explains why you want her to do it and she has the information needed to make a decision.

Maybe reassure DS you are doing everything that you can. Try to explain to him the process and that you thought him talking to the GAL would be enough to fix things now, but you are being told it isn't. But that hopefully it will make a difference in the trial. That you can use what he said then. Also make sure he knows you understand how he feels and you're upset too. Maybe brainstorm a plan of what they can do at dad's if he gets really bad. Is there a family member they can trust to pick them up? Can they reach out to you? Can they make up an excuse to go out to a store nearby to hang out until things calm down at home?

This is just so frustrating! I'm kind of angry they won't do more now. I'm upset that DS talking to the GAL wasn't enough for a temp order. 

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Penny Lane

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Re: Mediation Agmt
« Reply #9 on: August 27, 2019, 01:06:36 PM »
So, who is making the rule that your DD has to talk to the GAL in order to temporarily change the custody agreement? Is it the GAL, or is it that your lawyer doesn't think you'd win a motion unless both kids are on board? It just seems so arbitrary, like, one kid reporting abuse doesn't count but TWO kids reporting abuse puts you over some threshold? This is all so sad.

 :bighug:

I think everything Poison Ivy says is wise. You don't bully the kids into jumping off the high diving board, but you can encourage them to do it even if it's scary. You know? Can you take that attitude with her? "I know this is scary but it seems like you think it's the right thing to do. Your brother and I would support you 100%." Talk through her fears - is it that she doesn't want her dad to find out? Is that really worse than him trying to bully everyone into a situation where DD goes to his house without DS? Could DS go in with DD for moral support? Is there anything else that would make it easier?

To your son's point I think you can be really honest with them. The truth is, you can't protect them, not completely. You are doing and will continue to do everything you can. The way the law and family courts are set up, you can't control what happens at their dad's house or what the custody agreement says, not completely. The best you can do here is give them the tools they need to help themselves. It's not fair that they have to do this so young and you wish you could do more. But you don't get to have MORE of a say in court than their dad does. Only they can speak for themselves and tell their truth to the GAL or to the court.

Maybe remind your son how hard it was for him to come to this place of talking to the GAL. Maybe he can share with your DD how it went. The reality is even if you wanted to force DD to talk to the GAL, you can't make her open up in that room. He knows that. I think he's really mad at the system that's not protecting him, he's not REALLY mad at you. He deserves to be mad. I'm mad at the system too - it is failing your kids! I think it would be OK if you shared that you're mad as well, maybe he wouldn't feel so alone.

What would happen if they just refused to go over to his house? Not that you are refusing to take them, but they just refuse to go? Your DS might be about at that point and I think you should be prepared for that scenario. Would your lawyer say you have to take them but you can't make them get out of the car? Or what?

Also, for if they have to go back to his house do you have a safety plan for them in place? Call the police, call you to come get them, run to a neighbor's house, something if he gets really, really scary?

You are doing everything right. Seriously, it's so hard and so scary and sometimes you have to say "this is not in my control" so you can let go and focus on what is in your control. Please come let us know how it goes, I'll be thinking of you guys.

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Whiteheron

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Re: Mediation Agmt
« Reply #10 on: August 27, 2019, 09:33:44 PM »
penny - I think my L sees it as the fastest way forward. She knows I am extremely frustrated that I can't protect the kids from him, so in her mind, the best way to guarantee I can protect them more is to try to get DD to open up. Maybe she thinks there is a chance since DS opened up...but DD doesn't know DS met with the GAL and told her everything. Maybe her knowing that would help? She can be very stubborn (not sure where she got that from :upsidedown:)
Otherwise we will have to wait a few weeks until our next court date to see what happens with the judge. If nothing is resolved, then trial would be in about two months or so with a different judge).

They can refuse to go to his house. Well, I still have to drive them over there, but they can refuse to get out of the car. stbx can then call the police, who will not make the kids get out of the car....so I would end up taking them home with me. DS is very close to refusing to go over to his dad's house. I think he's afraid that DD would have to go alone and that it wouldn't go well for her. I think that's one reason he hasn't refused yet. DD is confused, because she sees DS as the golden child and can't understand what he could possibly be complaining about. She may be too young to fully grasp what stbx is doing.

DS and I discussed a safety plan, which involves locking himself in his room or pretending to go to the bathroom and calling the police, then calling me (or having the police call me). Or, running over to the old barn across the way and hiding out until I/the police can get there. Where they are living now, there are no real neighbors. DS says that even if he makes a run for it, his dad could catch him and kill him before help arrives.

athene - there are no other family members or places of business out where he lives. It's very isolated. His house is surrounded by open fields.

thanks for the different perspective poison ivy - I can encourage her but in the end leave the final decision up to her. Problem is, they are with him until Monday...then school starts up. I feel like we are running out of time.

You can't destroy me if I don't care.

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Poison Ivy

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Re: Mediation Agmt
« Reply #11 on: August 27, 2019, 10:39:21 PM »
I'm sorry you and your children are in this situation, Whiteheron.  It sounds terrifying.

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Whiteheron

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Re: Mediation Agmt
« Reply #12 on: August 28, 2019, 10:00:28 AM »
Thank poison ivy. I was chatting with my sister last night and she brought up that he wasn't always this way...then wondered if he'd gone off his meds again. Could be, or it could be that he's completely dropped the mask, since he doesn't think he needs it anymore.

I also learned last night that stbx confronted DS about speaking to the GAL. DS had a very strong feeling it was coming. There is no way DD will speak with her now. I sent of an email to my L letting her know that any chance DD would speak with the GAL has just been lost. DS refused to talk to me about it, so I strongly encouraged him to send and email to the GAL and let her know. I doubt he will. This just needs to stop.
You can't destroy me if I don't care.

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Penny Lane

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Re: Mediation Agmt
« Reply #13 on: August 28, 2019, 10:56:37 AM »
Or both, the meds are part of his mask so he feels like he doesn't need them when he doesn't have his mask on so to speak.

I'm sorry I guess I missed that the kids are there now. Is this the vacation week? Oh WhiteHeron,  :bighug:

I'm so sorry. You're doing everything right and like I said the system is failing your kids. Someone should be able to step in now, not in a few weeks or a few months.