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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 03-15-2014, 08:56 PM
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Default Need help RE: changing restraining order on my ex.

This is a very long, complicated story so I'm going to try to shorten it as much as I can. My ex and I had a good relationship, and then toward the end he started acting aggressively(physically to others, emotionally to me). Fights happened, people got upset, etc. We broke up and I was pregnant. He threatened me once during an argument after the breakup, and my mother advised me to phone the police to make sure he left me alone. A report was made and he was warned..

I spoke briefly to a shelter who gave me advice on how to get a restraining order if needed, but since nothing was happening I didn't pursue that.

Now, months passed uneventful. He called my mother every now and then for updates on the pregnancy but did leave me alone. I spoke to him after quite a few months, and again nothing eventful happened. There was an issue around him getting upset over an ultrasound, and refusing to pay for it so we went without him. But his mother started calling my mother and telling her all these scary stories about how threatening he was, and how we needed to be afraid and never be alone with him.

I didn't see any signs myself that he would ever hurt us but being pregnant and anxious his mother's continued calls started to scare me. She was calling almost daily telling my mother all these terrible things he had said to her and how she felt he would hurt the baby if he was ever alone with him. So I called the local CAS(who had been briefly involved after the police were called earlier in the pregnancy) to ask their advice, and was told it was best to get a restraining order to protect the baby and go for full custody and supervised access for him.

So, I took the advice, got a lawyer, went to court uncontested and the order was quickly made. When the baby was born I went back to court asking for full custody, and his access to be supervised at my discretion. The judge extended the restraining order for FIVE years, preventing him from contacting me except during access, and even sent my lawyer a letter advising that we apply the restraining order to the baby as well. She also somehow decided on access being supervised at my mother's house, and at my MOTHER'S discretion.

This was all really overwhelming for me, I have social anxiety and my lawyers really didn't keep me posted on anything during the process. I was only there for the court date and my lawyer read one or two sentences but since my ex didn't show up, they granted the order right away without listening to the case. I was shocked, honestly, when the judge made it five years, based on the fact that most of the papers were documenting some things during the relationship and then months worth of things his mother said that scared my family. Plus, my lawyer in the beginning had told me that the restraining order would only be for 6-12 months and that they were never longer than that.

Anyways.. fast forward to now.. baby is one and a half, his dad has been coming around without a single incident, and I have come to know his mother loves to start drama all the time and is always telling these crazy stories about his behaviour that don't add up to what I saw in the past or what I've seen during access. Honestly, his visits are really friendly and we all sit around chatting and laughing and he plays with the baby and is really good with him.

So, now I want to file the papers to change the restraining order to say he is just not to "harass or threaten us", and change his access to "at my discretion". He wants to go out with the baby and I, and I feel bad that the order is now blocking him from bonding more with his child. I feel like I, too, can't even contact him to send pics of the baby or keep him posted on illnesses or whatever, because I'm afraid I could be seen as violating the order and have CAS investigate or something nerve-wracking like that.

How hard is it to change a restraining order to less than it is? Is it possible that the judge would reject it?
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Old 03-15-2014, 09:04 PM
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So the father of your child has never assaulted you or threatened you yet he has a 5-yr restraining order? Am I missing something here?

I am absolutely gob-smacked at this.

It sounds as though you rely heavily on what others tell you to do.

If I were a close friend or relative of the child's father I would advise him to steer clear of you and only see the child when another person is present.
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Old 03-15-2014, 09:09 PM
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He did threaten us, and the police were called. When I was pregnant.

And yes, that was a really difficult time in my life and I had pregnancy depression and anxiety and then also postpartum. Which I have worked hard to get through. And there was a great deal of manipulation by the counselor I had at the time, whom I trusted, who called CAS after the breakup "to make sure that if I ever let him come around us again, I'd lose my kids". I have ended seeing her now, but at the time I trusted her and I did let her manipulate me.

I know that this can be a very judging forum by what I've read here, but please, I am coming here asking for honest advice on something that would benefit my child, because I love my children and want the best for them. I am coming here saying this is not a fair order, and I want to change it for everyone's sake. You cannot judge someone based onone internet post. I love my kids deeply and I am only trying to do the best for them at all times.

If someone was coming to you almost daily telling you that someone else was talking about hurting your kids, or had the capability of doing so, wouldn't you worry? You add that in with pregnancy hormones, and anxiety/depression, and it's not easy to make a choice on what to do. I stressed for weeks over what I needed to do.

And from the start, I have always agreed every time he wanted to visit, and we have always let him stay as long as he can, and I went to court with the stance that it WAS in the baby's best interest to have him involved and that I wanted the access to be at my discretion, not in an access centre because I wanted it to be a good environment for everyone.

I would very much appreciate non-judgemental posts, because I am only trying to do what is best for my child. I am looking for advice.

Thank you.
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Old 03-15-2014, 10:24 PM
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When you make a serious move like you did (getting a 5 year restraining order) you effected the lives of both your child and the child's father. You have to accept responsibility for that.

You mentioned the father didn't bother his ass to even show up in court when the restraining order was issued.

Perhaps the father should make application to have the restraining order lifted. You could provide an affidavit attesting to his good behaviour over since the order was in place and endorse his having the order removed.

Unless you are very young and/or a minor yourself when you had this child I get the impression, from what you have posted here, that those around you think you cannot make sound decisions for yourself.

Have you discussed your decision to lift the restraining order with your counsellor and mother?

I have difficulty in understanding how the 5 year restraining order was issued in the first place. I have never heard of anyone receiving a 5 year restraining order for verbally threatening someone in an argument. This makes me think that there must be much more to this story. Perhaps the father of the child had a lengthy criminal record of assault or battery?

Last edited by arabian; 03-15-2014 at 10:29 PM.
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Old 03-15-2014, 10:35 PM
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My advice is not to seek a change to the restraining order. I suspect there were reasons beyond gossip and drama that made the judge issue a five-year order in the first place. If the father is playing and chatting with the baby and everything is going well as it is, just keep on going. In three and a half years, assuming things are going well, the order will have run its course. If he wants to play more of a role in his child's life, the best thing he can do is be as law-abiding and co-operative as possible right now. He can be an involved dad under the terms of the restraining order (which he brought on himself by his behavior).

If have no doubt that you do love your children, but your story makes me think the father of the child has some serious issues, and it's best to err on the side of too much supervision than too little. If you're seeking a change in the restraining order because of issues between yourself and your mother (who supervises access), or between yourself and the father of your child, I suggest you find a different way to deal with these issues.
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Old 03-15-2014, 10:39 PM
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I do accept responsibility. I also accept that now, it is not a fair order as it is standing in the way of him further bonding with his child. And I do not want that.

I was 23 when all of this happened. I feel like so much has changed since then, and when I look back now, yes I wish things had happened differently. I was, at the time, very afraid and losing sleep over it, but I wish now that I could've seen how other people's opinions were affecting my anxiety. When I was younger, low self-esteem unfortunately opened me up to letting others over-step boundaries and influence my decisions if they felt strongly about them. This is not the same today, but I can't really go back and change things. But I can see the unfairness in the result, and want to change that now.

My mother agrees with my decision to lift it. She agrees that he is not a threat and it would be best if he can be more involved, if that's what he wants.

Like I said, I too was shocked by the five year restraining order. The judge listened to two sentences and said "order granted" and we left. It was all a whirlwind and I'd been under the understanding that it would be at the most a 1 year restraining order.

The father has no criminal record at all. And when I drew up the order draft with my lawyer, we put down that he should have access at my discretion and be able to contact our child. The judge even changed that part, so everyone was actually really confused by the order. I wish I had more answers on why it is a five-year order, but I don't understand it myself. There was the one threat, a police report was made on that but never asked for by the judge.
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Old 03-15-2014, 10:46 PM
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If you and your mother can attest for the father then there should be little problem in him applying to get it removed. You should check with the lawyer who represented you at the time. You could go with the father to your local court house and ask the duty counsel for advice on how to proceed. Your next step might be to get some counselling together and to draw up a parenting plan. Others on here with experience in that area will likely chime in.
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Old 03-15-2014, 10:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stripes View Post
My advice is not to seek a change to the restraining order. I suspect there were reasons beyond gossip and drama that made the judge issue a five-year order in the first place. If the father is playing and chatting with the baby and everything is going well as it is, just keep on going. In three and a half years, assuming things are going well, the order will have run its course. If he wants to play more of a role in his child's life, the best thing he can do is be as law-abiding and co-operative as possible right now. He can be an involved dad under the terms of the restraining order (which he brought on himself by his behavior).

If have no doubt that you do love your children, but your story makes me think the father of the child has some serious issues, and it's best to err on the side of too much supervision than too little. If you're seeking a change in the restraining order because of issues between yourself and your mother (who supervises access), or between yourself and the father of your child, I suggest you find a different way to deal with these issues.
You really think so? He has some mental health issues. I have some depression/anxiety as I've mentioned so I don't judge mental health issues.

There aren't any issues between me and my mother, or with him. His access is always really positive and friendly.

I have another child with a father who can't be bothered. And for my first child, we never went to court or anything, he's always had open access whenever he wants it but he doesn't want it. I even used to go out of my way to take my first to another city so his dad could see him on holidays.

So, I guess when I see that my second child's dad want to be more involved, and wants to go on outings with the baby and all of that, I feel that this order is standing in the way and it's unfair. And it severely limits what I can do, I can't email him pictures of the baby or arrange access for myself without violating it or encouraging him to.

And I feel like kids have the right to know who their dads are. That's never changed. And dads who want to be involved, should be, as long as nobody is getting abused. If he wanted to be at his child's first day of school, for example, he wouldn't be allowed to. Or if he wanted to see his child take part in classes outside of school before the age of 5, he wouldn't be able to. So then we have a willing father, but our child will only see that his dad's not there. That makes me sad.
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Old 03-15-2014, 10:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by arabian View Post
If you and your mother can attest for the father then there should be little problem in him applying to get it removed. You should check with the lawyer who represented you at the time. You could go with the father to your local court house and ask the duty counsel for advice on how to proceed. Your next step might be to get some counselling together and to draw up a parenting plan. Others on here with experience in that area will likely chime in.
Ok, so the judge is unlikely to reject it? I read the guide on how to do it, and I have the forms saved, I am just curious about what to expect. I found the first court experience extremely overwhelming and I was out of the loop, and I didn't like that. I thought it would be easier to submit the papers together, without a lawyer.
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Old 03-15-2014, 10:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by needsomehelp View Post
You really think so? He has some mental health issues. I have some depression/anxiety as I've mentioned so I don't judge mental health issues.
Yes, I really think so. Five-year restraining orders aren't handed out like popcorn, and you've said yourself you don't understand why this order was handed down, so I would be very careful about changing it. I don't know all the specifics of your story, and might think differently if I knew the people involved, but there are a lot of red flags here. I suggest you encourage the father to be the best father has can be within the limits of the order. This will be difficult for him, but if he really wants to prove himself, he has to be willing to work hard. The worst possible outcome would be for the restraining order to be lifted, and then for some incident to occur, as it has in the past, which would result in more involvement with police, CAS, court, etc. I think it's not impossible for that to happen.
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