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Divorce & Family Law This forum is for discussing any of the legal issues involved in your divorce.

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Old 02-22-2013, 11:30 AM
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Hi all - I'm so glad I found this forum, the information here has been fantastic. Just a bit of background before my question: I am divorced with two children (13 and 10) who see their dad two days a week. My children's relationship with their father has never been good - he is verbally and emotionally abusive to them. He lost overnight access to them for three months a few years ago because he called them horrible names and was getting drunk in front of them all the time. This is all documented through lawyers and therapists. CAS was not involved at the time, we just dealt with it through lawyers. A few weeks ago the ex attacked our 13 year old son (shoving, dragging, throwing his glasses, threatening). When I called my lawyer to find out if I could stop the access because the kids didn't want to go there anymore (and why) she told me I had to call CAS, which I did. The worker has spoken to my kids and my ex, and he admitted to what happened, but swore it would never happen again. I don't believe him of course, having experienced his abuse throughout our marriage.

Currently I am broke and can no longer afford a lawyer so I have to do this all myself. I have filled all my paperwork out to make a motion to change access and will be sending them to a process server today. My question is - do I need to include (or can I include!) the letters between our lawyers where he admitted somewhat to what happened a few years ago (he won't admit he has a drinking problem), as well as where he admitted to doing things to me (he admitted to breaking thing like my computer, dishes, windshield, etc.). Are those documents relevant? If so, do they get included with the motion I serve him or do I file them at the court when I file the other documents once he is served? My opinion is that it goes to show how he deals with his anger. I just wonder if how he was during our marriage TO ME is relevant to how he is with his children. Also, would a letter from the children's therapist (who they've been seeing for three years) recommending a stop to access be helpful or relevant as well?

Also - does anyone have experience in requesting a lawyer for the children? The CAS worker suggested I do so, so the kids have a voice about what they want. My son is 13 (will be 14 in a few months) so from what I've read his opinion will be quite important. He doesn't want to see his dad at all. My daughter (the 10 year old) doesn't want to go either, and definitely not without her brother. In fact, when the ex lost them a few years ago he only got our son back for the first few months overnight because the therapist thought his relationship with his daughter was difficult at best and she shouldn't have to go there.

Any help would be appreciated!
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Old 02-22-2013, 11:48 AM
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I readiluy admit I have no experience in this area, but wouldn't proposing supervised access be easier? From what I've seen here and in other readings, courts don't like to totally deny access and so that would put a higher burden of proof on you to show the children are in danger. And if he misbehaves during supervised access you have a neutral witness.
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Old 02-22-2013, 11:51 AM
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Thank you for your reply DT. I thought supervised visits could be my compromise position. Would it make more sense to ask for the best case scenario (no access) and then have that to fall back on? Or does the court look unkindly to that?
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Old 02-22-2013, 12:00 PM
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Again not from direct experience, but from reading others experiences, the courts generally look at both parents being involved as being in the best interests of the child, so they would like to see both parents willing to compromise to achieve that, as opposed to being totally adversarial.
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Old 02-22-2013, 04:14 PM
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If CAS investigated and did not find a problem (which I agree does not necessarily mean that there isn't a problem), wouldn't it be very difficult to argue for supervised access? (Let alone no access). The scorecard as a third party might see it:

Bitter ex: He's bad
Neutral CAS: He's not bad

Again, not saying the OP is lying (or bitter), just wondering how difficult it would be to overcome a CAS evaluation.
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Old 02-22-2013, 04:21 PM
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Hmmm...interesting Janus. CAS said they couldn't involve themselves in the custody aspect but they didn't say 'nothing' happened or that there wasn't a problem. The worker realized their dad has anger issues and told him he needs to work on it or he will lose them. Having lost them overnight before for three months has to have some relevance - as well as speak to history - and not make me look like I'm just bitter (because I'm not). I'd like nothing more than the kids to have a healthy relationship with their dad, and have gone out of my way to keep him in the loop, involve him and warn him when the kids were getting fed up with his actions. He just keeps on doing what he does though and the kids are paying the price. It breaks my heart.
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Old 02-22-2013, 08:10 PM
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The only problem I see with your position, is that his no access was NOT a court order, it was something you worked out between lawyers... in my opinion, had this gone to court a Judge most likely would have ruled for supervised access opposed to zero access. His past conduct will have something to do with his access now, however, the best case scenario is not having zero access... the best case scenario is them having access to their father, but in a manner where his anger will have to be controlled -supervised access.

It is unfortunate the kids have to go through this, but in my opinion supervised access is what you should be asking for. Makes you look more reasonable, than attempting to cut off all access.
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