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cazzie's avatar

How much should you weight up the other parent's mental health and insist visits be limited or postponed, for the welfare of the child?

Asked by cazzie (19364 points ) August 20th, 2014

I keep hearing reports from other family members that my son’s father is very ill, not eating, very depressed, talking in a confusing way, refusing to go to work or deal with bills. He was ranting and crying that I was keeping my son away. (which isn’t true, he over-nighted two nights in a row a few weeks ago when he was feeling up.) He doesn’t spend that much time with our son. He doesn’t call and when he wants to see his son on a weekend (which isn’t every weekend…), he sends an sms on the day or really late on a Friday. We have a written agreement that he is to phone on the Monday to plan for the following weekend, but he has never done this. He never talks in the way a regular parent does, like ‘Would little man like to come hang with me this weekend?’ He says, ‘I have to see my son.’ or ‘I want to see him this weekend.’ I think my ex is using our son to cheer himself up, but I don’t know how healthy for my son some of the visits have been when he is really down. Sorry this is so long, but it’s been a bit rough lately.

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11 Answers

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

That does not sound healthy, or safe. If it were my choice he’d never get anywhere near your son. I’d even be nervous with supervised visits.

snowberry's avatar

It will be expensive and take a while. First you need to document every text (meaning get a transcript of all texts from the phone company if necessary). Then get the kid into a therapist and have them document possible concerns regarding ex husband. Once you have enough evidence, give it to a good attorney and get a mediator to speak for your child. The goal is to get a full mental evaluation of ex husband. And to be fair, an evaluation of yourself as well. Evaluating yourself shows you have nothing to hide and that you want the best for your son. It also might make him more willing to get the evaluation, making him think that he’s not being targeted.

I had a friend whose husband was worse than you describe. He’d show up at school and eat lunch with his 7 year old, cradling her in his lap and sobbing quietly. When she went over for weekend visits, he wouldn’t allow her to go to the toilet like a normal child of her age. In stead he’d make her wear a diaper. It was really disgusting. As this continued, her mental health deteriorated, and she was hospitalized. The hospital documented his weird behavior, and it was their recommendation that caused the judge to sever his relationship with his child. It took almost 2 years.

Cupcake's avatar

How has your son’s behavior been lately? His mood? How old is he?

The other parent’s mental health should be a serious consideration, as it has tremendous effect on the child.

If he is not capable of following the terms of visitation by phoning you on Mondays, then I would not allow my child to visit.

Here in NY, I would request a new visitation hearing and ask for a court-appointed law guardian to investigate and make recommendations in the best interest of the child.

zenvelo's avatar

The welfare of the child is paramount in all cases. Everything else is secondary.

My ex had better and worse days. I knew it was important for the kids to have a relationship with their mother, yet their were times when i would tell her she was not in a healthy place for them to spend time with her. I also told her that if she insisted I would inform the Sheriff for a health and safety check, and also report to Child and Family Services.

1TubeGuru's avatar

What you are asking needs to be determined by the family court. hearsay is not admissible and the court will shut it down, if family members have seen behavior that is detrimental to the child they need to testify before the court.

snowberry's avatar

Oh, when I said document every text, I should have said every communication, written, text, e-mail, phone message or, or in person. So start a journal with date and time and document every conversation you have with this person. A daily journal is admissible in court. Include every visit to the doctor. Everything. The more information you can provide, the better picture you paint for a judge. Documentation is the only way you can prove your point to a judge.

JLeslie's avatar

I think this is so so difficult to deal with, I’m sorry you are going through this. I think if you believe your son is in danger then you have to think seriously about limiting or discountinuing visits with his dad, but I can completely empathasize with not wanting to take the official steps to get a court order for it. Is your son old enough that he is relatively safe even when left alone? I don’t remember his age.

It sounds like your husband is an addict, so it probably won’t be too hard to get full custody. All they will need to do is random drug testing and he will fail if that is the case. If it is not addiction and purely mental illness, then that might be a more difficult battle. Or, maybe you just mean without the court you could just refuse to let him take the child, because he is not abiding by the rules? Will he back down easily?

I don’t believe in the whole, “it’s important they have a relationship with their father/mother,” when that parents is destructive. I do think both parents are very important for a child in normal circumstances. Since I think environment and modeling has a lot to with our personalities and behavior, being around a mess of a parent just ups the odd the child will be a mess in my opinion. Not necessarily, but it is an unfortunate fact that behaviors tend to go from one generation to the next. I can’t tell you how many girlfriends of mine are dissappointed their sons wound up having a lot of their ex-husband’s personality traits. I guess maybe men can say the same about women, I don’t know, I don’t hear those conversations.

Does your son want to see his dad? Or, are the visits so bazaar your son dreads going?

cazzie's avatar

He is making me go to these meetings with him now and he is so delusional. I can’t even talk to him. He won’t listen and I’m back to having horrible nightmares. Every time I have to deal with him it just scares the shit out of me.

JLeslie's avatar

I hate when I start getting reoccurring nightmares. It happens to me when I feel no control and abused. I play out in my nightmares being chased and shot or some similar anxiety ridden scary scenerio. It is the nightmares that in the past have caused me to finally get some therapy to talk things through. I’m not saying you should get therapy, I am just saying that when I have gone through stressful things I can usually tolerate it until it affects my sleep in such a negative way, then it becomes unbearable.

How many of the meetings do you have to go to, and can he really make you go? Is there some way to gain more control over the situation?

I just read your original post again to remind myself what you had written and it occurred to mind that maybe your should have a very specific legal agreement about the weekends he gets his son if you must let him spend time with his dad. If it was every other weekend then you can plan and if his dad misses that weekend he missed it too bad. Probably he will miss some without any advanced noticed, which will be dissappointing for your son and frustrating for you, but then maybe you can get 100% custody no visitation and be done with it. You obviously would need to consult with a lawyer to see if that or some other idea might help you in the long run. Unless you think you can prove now in the courts he is detrimental to your son’s well being and get total custody.

Can you call the authorities anonymously to get him psych evaluated?

Are you scared because you don’t want to be around him, or because you actually feel he might physically harm you?

cazzie's avatar

I dont want to be around him. At all. And he does scare me. The way he blames me for everything. I think he would hurt me again, especially if he was drunk.

JLeslie's avatar

I understand why. I have had more than one friend very afraid of their husbands when they finally left them. It lasted for a while for all of them. It took years for them to not be afraid.

Do you have the option to move so you can have more distance from him and it would be harder for him to make the effort to see his son? Or, maybe that would make things worse?

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