I go to court a lot. I never get much relief - even though I win.

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Arkhangelsk

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I go to court a lot. I never get much relief - even though I win.
« on: September 19, 2019, 02:12:33 PM »
I go to court once a quarter to do things like get the judge to make my ex let me sign the kids up for the science fair or to ask for the 5th time that my custody order regarding child communication be enforced.

I always win - in that the judge signs the orders I propose.  But I loose because my ex just does not follow these orders.  And he gets no consequences.

I am beyond meticulous about following the rules.  But I am starting to ponder whether I should play a better game over here.  The nice thing about being punctilious is that it is easy to follow a bright line rule.   But it seems clear, after many years of this, that there is stuff the court will not enforce and stuff I am not going to get dinged for. 

For example, as per the order, I always take a photo of any permission slips I sign and OFW them to the ex.  He never does the same.  This is annoying.  What if I just.    stop?

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Penny Lane

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Re: I go to court a lot. I never get much relief - even though I win.
« Reply #1 on: September 19, 2019, 02:50:48 PM »
I said this on the other thread - I have a LOT of thoughts about this.

We've been going around and around on this especially on the topic of right of first refusal. It is CLEAR that ROFR applies to times when, say, BM is at work all day. Or she and her boyfriend go to a no kids party and leave the kids with the boyfriends' friends. Etc. However, she will not offer DH ROFR with any regularity and she has a variety of reasons why it doesn't apply during her parenting time. H could go to court and she could be ordered to follow the rules. But then, she still wouldn't and she would just continue to lie about where the kids are.

The other thing I've been thinking about ROFR is that it's actually bad for the kids when he offers it to her. If it's overnight ROFR, the kids invariably come back exhausted. She's done things like, accepted his ROFR offer and then taken them to work with her, which I would argue means she's not really "available." One time he got off work early and she wouldn't let him pick up the kids, saying it was still her ROFR time until the time he told her he would be there. Yet another time one of the kids got injured pretty badly, she didn't take them to the doctor and she didn't tell him until right before pickup. This is really troubling and ethically I think there's not really a good answer: Should you follow an agreement that the other party repeatedly violates, when it's actively harming your children?

So H has decided that he will "follow her interpretation of ROFR." This means that he's basically only offering her ROFR when it's convenient for him or if he goes out of town. This almost never happens (he's rarely unavailable during his parenting time anyway) so what this effectively means is that the ROFR provision is void, or really only applies to overnights. The trade off is that this removes his ability to argue in court that she's violating ROFR. But we both came to the conclusion that, like you said, even a victory in that arena would be a hollow one. So what's the point? It wouldn't lead to more time with the kids, and it would be costly and stressful.

Is that better? I don't know. It's better than him offering it and her not doing the same. It's better than the kids being with an abusive/neglectful parent more often. Is he following the order? I would say no, but I don't think BM could possibly argue no. He's following her lead on this! So I think in terms of court he's safe.

Then there are things like, cc'ing her on communication. When he's trying to sort stuff out with a teacher or medical provider, BM will often jump in with an aggressive attack on either him or the other person. This makes it very difficult to get things done and it makes people less likely to respond to him. In the past, she's been so mean that the other person just took her off the cc, DH added her back on, and she further attacked the other person. So now that person doesn't want to communicate with H either, because they know in that case they'll have to hear from BM. Is it better for the kids if H cuts BM out of the process? Certainly more stuff will get done. But once BM finds out then there's a nuclear explosion. She often retaliates by hiding important information from H. I don't know, there's not really a good answer here.

In those two examples these are times when following the order is actively harmful to the children. And I have come around to erring on the side of doing what's right for the kids, with the caveat that H shouldn't open himself to litigation or at least should have an answer ready for if BM takes the matter to a judge.

There's all kinds of little stuff like the permission slip. DH does that stuff, BM doesn't. I don't think it makes a big difference in the kids' lives one way or another if you do it. (The only reason I would want to see a permission slip would be to make sure BM didn't leave off DH's contact info completely - but he never does that to her, so it doesn't really matter if she sees it or not). In those cases I would ask, how much energy are you spending on it? If it's no big deal, then cool. If it's a big deal, then probably not worth it, right? For little stuff like this H generally does it, if nothing else so if he has to move to get full custody he can show how hard he's worked to keep BM in the loop. But he tries to minimize the amount of energy he spends on it. We bought a printer/copier/scanner, in part to facilitate this stuff, and it really only takes DH a minute. Another factor to consider on the smaller stuff is that BM does often follow H's lead, so if he's sending copies of documents she usually will start doing it at least part of the time.

Here is how that process often goes over here:
DH asks BM to do something that he's been doing all along. She insists she's not required to or she already does it or whatever.
DH (privately) says, fine I'm not going to do this either.
BM finds out he's stopped doing it and blows up, insisting that it's his responsibility to the kids that he do this thing.
DH says, OK should we agree to both do this?
BM says she already does it and that H should start doing it.
BM never does it.

How do you work with that? You don't, I guess, you work around it.

We went through this with haircuts. She lost her mind that DH took the kids to get haircuts, insisted that they need to give each other a heads up, something she had never done before. He said sure. Within months she had taken the kids for their next haircut and not given H a heads up. When called out she said she doesn't think it's necessary unless they're going to change their hairstyle (both haircuts were pretty much the same). So now the rules are shifting but always somehow lead to - DH has to notify her but not vice versa. H said, no, either we give each other a heads up or we don't. And now they don't give each other a heads up. This will never be a court issue, it doesn't impact the kids and the less communication they need to have the less chance there is for a big blowup.

I do like the strategy of at least acting like you're trying to resolve it. I think saying "Well if your position is that we aren't required to do this, I disagree but I think we should operate under the same set of rules so I will stop as well." I think that protects you in the record, if nothing else. If you've already decided you aren't going to do something, force HIM to articulate why you shouldn't have to do it!

You ask what would happen if you just stopped. I would ask you, what do you think would happen? There would be no court consequences, I'm in agreement with you there. Would your ex blow up? Would he retaliate and hurt the kids? Would it be worth it once the initial anger blows over? Would it be a big benefit to you in terms of saving your energy for more important things? I too am someone who is extremely meticulous about following rules. And I have a very hard time even suggesting you not. But the goal here is to get your kids out of the situation in one piece. How does this decision impact that? And if it doesn't impact it at all, what do you WANT to do?

I guess I was not joking about having a lot of thoughts about this! No real answers though. This is yet another situation where you just have to choose between two bad answers and you have to factor in what's right for you, I guess. I'll be interested to hear where others land on this.
« Last Edit: September 19, 2019, 03:36:00 PM by Penny Lane »

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athene1399

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Re: I go to court a lot. I never get much relief - even though I win.
« Reply #2 on: September 20, 2019, 10:04:04 AM »
I hope this doesn't sound like I am minimizing your issue, but I feel this is the crux of all of our problems. The PD ex doesn't follow the same rules we do or has their own version of the rules that we are not allowed to follow. It is so frustrating! And like Penny said, you generally have to choose between two bad answers.

Part of the problem is you can find a way to change your rules to make them more like his, but that doesn't help you getting him to listen to then. That just evens things up so you aren't giving him way more than he is giving you.  SO's L said if you can get a "verbal" (text) agreement or she doesn't disagree with what you are asking, then that will hold up in court. So you could try "The kids and I have something going on from 6 pm on, so please call before then if you want to chat with them." However, that could lead to him doing the same to you and still not answering when you call on his time. He could also blow up, saying "how dare you limit my talk time". There's no real way to know until you try. And something that works once will not always work. I've noticed PD's so not like being dictated what they should or shouldn't do. Sometimes you just have to find a way to phrase it better. IME if you can make it sound like you are empathizing or doing them a favor, BM is more receptive to what we are asking. But even then it doesn't always work.

We try to weigh out if it is worth a potential blow up. Like is this issue big enough to bring up? Usually whatever we want causes a blow up. Just how it is. But we really started picking and choosing our battles.

If I am remembering correctly, he tells you the kids were busy and didn't want to talk. You could always start saying that to him too, like "what are they busy with just so I know when they shouldn't have to answer at my house?" Then if he calls you and the kids are doing the same activity, "As we discussed the other day, it's ok for them to not answer when they do x. I'll make sure they are free tomorrow to talk" or whatever. But then you may have to weigh, how are the kids after they talk to dad? Do they get upset? or does it just not phase them? Like if talking to him bothers them, I would try to find a way around it. But if they don't get worked up when he talks to them, then it may cause more issues with the ex that just aren't worth it IMO.  But like I said, that's something you have to think about and weigh out.

There really is no easy answer. :( A lot of it is trial and error. And even then, it's often mood dependent.

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inLovebutTired

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Re: I go to court a lot. I never get much relief - even though I win.
« Reply #3 on: September 26, 2019, 03:36:58 PM »
it is immensely frustrating. Gives the impression the system is there to keep paper being spilled with ink.. I see my partner going through this repeatedly with PDxw, trying to reach agreement that are not followed. She has the children so he needs to keep battling and have room to maneuver, something to exchange. Clearly the legal system needs to take more into consideration those who have their own rules, as Athene1399 said.
It is frustrating.

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Stepping lightly

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Re: I go to court a lot. I never get much relief - even though I win.
« Reply #4 on: September 27, 2019, 03:27:01 PM »
 Hi Arkhangelsk,

I think we all know, it doesn't matter what is in the order, the PD is going to do what they want to do.  And most likely, they will never have consequences for it.  I would definitely keep this in mind when you go to court and request things in the order.  Some of the small things, like photographing permissions slips, nobody is going to care if the PD does it or not....it's crummy not to, but in the grand scheme of things judges have bigger fish to fry.  But- as the non, you need to be perfect, that's also the reality.  So- we all follow the orders to a T, because for whatever reason, there are consequences for the non-PD parent.  Like PL mentioned the ROFR, we discussed putting it in our CO but realized there was no point to include it.  We'd HAVE to follow it, BM wouldn't, and she'd use it to cause chaos and alienate the kids.  We KNOW she goes out of the country and leaves the kids with her BF, and it infuriates us, but...it is what it is.  Interestingly, DH has never left the kids with me for more than a couple of hours, just to avoid a massive scene with BM.  But the other day, DSD14 insisted that DH went out of the country and left the kids with me.  She refused to believe differently, and the country she said he went to, was somewhere he hasn't gone since she was born...BM projection maybe?

I have said a lot of times, we are in  a bit of unique situation, but we are mostly NC with BM, and the only thing that BM is really held to in the CO is surrounding DH"s time.  She violates everything else, and again...we have no recourse so we honestly just keep trucking...


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Arkhangelsk

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Re: I go to court a lot. I never get much relief - even though I win.
« Reply #5 on: September 27, 2019, 05:35:09 PM »
Haha. 

I always know when my ex is doing something shady to me - because he accuses me of doing it to him.

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Stepping lightly

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Re: I go to court a lot. I never get much relief - even though I win.
« Reply #6 on: September 27, 2019, 05:44:37 PM »
Exactly- Projection=insight... at least it gives you clues to what is happening.

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Penny Lane

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Re: I go to court a lot. I never get much relief - even though I win.
« Reply #7 on: September 27, 2019, 06:26:30 PM »
Oh MAN. BM has projected about DH losing his job (she then got fired), me losing my job (same), the state of our house (turns out there was an entire floor of her house that was so dirty that it was off-limits to the kids), DH's poor mental health (for obvious reasons, but specifically an ex had filed a restraining order against her), she locked down all the kids' accounts telling the provider not to give DH access to them (now seems to be systematically trying to break into his accounts), she told DH that my pet is dangerous (her dog had broken her leg). The list goes on and it is RIDICULOUS. Every time she accuses DH of something we now say "how is she doing this thing?"

Then one time she got it in her head that DH was planning to move away. Like, imminently. That was the ONE TIME it was not projection, unfortunately.

In other news, BM recently found out that DH plans to follow her "interpretation" of right of first refusal. She's threatening to call the police on us and claiming she has never not once left the kids for more than a few hours. Even though a month ago her position was that she didn't have to offer him that time. So ... I'm not sure we'll feel that this ROFR thing is worth it in the long run. So maybe that negates some of what I say.