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Parenting Issues This forum is for discussing any of the parenting issues involved in your divorce, including parenting of step-children.

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Old 07-06-2013, 10:26 PM
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Default case conference..

I posted a few months ago and I'm really feeling anxious with a case conference coming up next week...
I have an 8 month old who lives with me and the child is wonderful and thriving. I have taken care of her on my own since birth. father did live with us for a few weeks after her birth but showed no interest in taking care of her and ended up leaving. Since then, he has visited very inconsistently, takes a few pictures of her when he's over and leaves. I always do my best to accomodate visits and would like to see a relationship develop but at this point she isn't comfortable with him and she needs to see him consistently in order for that to happen. He refused to pay any support after I had asked because he said "she has everything she needs". ...anyway, I filed court papers asking for sole custody and child support and had him served. I went to my first court date and it turns out he had retained a lawyer. I was shocked because he has shown very little interest. I have since retained one as well..and she's been great..mostly because I was so overwhelmed and intimidated and also because I didn't know how to deal with the lies. He has stated in his answer and case conference brief that he has been visiting consistently 3x a week since leaving, he said he has fed her..he hasn't (she has only been breastfed - refuses bottles..this isnt something im trying to use as a "crutch" so please dont attack me..it's just all she's ever known), he said ive denied him access because he hasnt paid child support... among other things. And none of it is true. From what ive read in other posts, it seems like lying happens a lot..but it sure is scary and draining when it's directed at you. My case conference brief was actually brief (2 pages..his was 10..they wrote a lot about himself and his job and how he comes from a good family..a lot of "extras").but mine explained that his visits have been inconsistent and he often cancels last minute for different social reasons. Even though his paperwork makes it seem like he wants to be a father and visits often, he still isnt showing much interest...since last month visits once a week for 30 min-hr.. He's asking for access every other weekend and tuesdays during the week. I would like to see visits gradually increase over time so that our daughter is comfortable with him and then end up with a schedule like that when she's ready for it. I'm just worried sick over all of this. I do have a good poker face and I can keep my emotions in check but I'm feeling pretty anxious on the inside.
I don't even think I really had a question...sorry for the rant. I guess I just need a little guidance...and maybe someone could give me an idea of what to expect during the case conference. My lawyer told me it's informal and not to be nervous because the judge understands infants...but I cant help it.
I know I'm a good mom..I own my own home..have a full time job..I don't have a lot of money but I've created a happy and loving environment for my daughter and I really want the best for her.
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Old 07-06-2013, 11:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gsmommy View Post
I always do my best to accomodate visits and would like to see a relationship develop but at this point she isn't comfortable with him and she needs to see him consistently in order for that to happen...

Even though his paperwork makes it seem like he wants to be a father and visits often, he still isnt showing much interest...since last month visits once a week for 30 min-hr.. He's asking for access every other weekend and tuesdays during the week. I would like to see visits gradually increase over time so that our daughter is comfortable with him and then end up with a schedule like that when she's ready for it.
I understand he hasn't been involved much now and in the past, but assuming he is telling the truth and that he wants to be more involved in the child's life, hiring a lawyer is further proof of this, what is wrong with that? Isn't that best for the child?

You have to assume he will end up with a 50/50 schedule, not just every other weekend... he is doing day visits now. You should be asking for the gradual increase, moving to 1 or 2 single overnight visits now.... then eow... then add a mid week... then 50/50.

While the child has only been on breast milk, it may be a hard few weeks, but it wouldn't take long for the child to learn to take the breast milk or formula from a bottle. At 8 months, the child should be eating a lot more than just milk as well.

Child support and arrears will be paid to you regardless of what he says.

I know it is hard to imagine a parent being involved now when they have shown no interest in the child before, but you have to understand that separation and court does this to parents. If he wants to do it now, and he isn't putting the child in danger, then that is best for the child.... let him do it. It will either scare him off or he will turn into a good parent like you.
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Old 07-07-2013, 12:06 AM
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Thank you.
She is on some food now as well..I just mentioned breastfeeding because he said he has fed her bottles in the past which is not true as she's never taken one. I have certainly spent a fortune on bottles, cups, you name it,in several attempts to try but that's beside the point.. I guess I'm just anxious in regards to what a case conference entails.. my lawyer did explain it to me a bit but I don't know if I'm fully understanding it..
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Old 07-07-2013, 12:33 AM
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There have been many posts on this. I would do a Title Only search of Case Conference to read up on it.
Here is a good link as well: http://www.ottawadivorce.com/forum/f...arified-15545/

Basically it is a quick informal discussion where the judge will offer his/her opinion on what might happen at trial, and help the parties try and come to a settlement.

Financial disclosure can be ordered if it has not been provided already. If it has, then the judge can advise that support should be paid and what amount. Really no other orders will be made unless both parties agree.

After the case conference, either party can bring a motion where you can get an interim order for custody, enforce support payments, and get an access (possibly gradually) agreement worked out.
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Old 07-07-2013, 07:31 AM
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so he has visited the baby at your place under your supervision? If so then maybe that is why he doesnt come as much. Not many people want their ex around during their parenting time.

You need to wrap your head around the fact that he wants to now be involved and the BIC is to have both parents. You have to accept that if he wants it, he will probably get overnights etc with the child. He has as many rights as you do so its best to start accepting that you probably will not get sole custody.
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Old 07-07-2013, 12:35 PM
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Agreed. I hope in your brief you have outlined how you are requesting more access and not just "I do everything, and he's done nothing so he can attend social events". His brief was not "extras". It is very relevant for him to talk about himself, his character, his job, and the family/support the child is missing out on. Sometimes the "briefs" need to be a little longer to highlight all the facts.

My fear is that you will come off as unreasonable and will have that cloud over your head for the rest of your court experience, although your lawyer may like it. If he is successful in getting his wish of more access, then he will forever say with proof how you denied him access and he was forced to miss out on child's life in order to wait out the court process to gain proper access to his child.

If you claim the baby can't do a bottle after this long, that can be seen as trying to alienate the father. Same with saying "the baby isn't comfortable yet" or "the baby is not ready for it" after months of your supervised access. You say you work full time... Do you work from home or else how possibly does the child survive?
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Old 07-07-2013, 02:40 PM
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Many people, not just men, don't know what to do with a new baby. Most are willing to learn, but add the stress of a break-up and having to deal with an ex to do it and it's easier for some to avoid the baby along with the ex.

What are your ex's current visits with his daughter like? Does he come to your home where you hover and overexplain how to change a diaper and what games your daughter likes to play? Do you sit and watch and radiate disapproval which both can sense? He'll feel like he can't do anything right, and your daughter will sense that you don't like this man so she shouldn't be comfortable around him. No wonder he makes excuses to get the hell out of there.

I would suggest trying to encourage visits in such a way that he doesn't have to have you around. Offer to drop the daughter off to him for a couple of hours and pick her up later, or let him pick her up and bring her out somewhere. If he's stressed about caring for a baby by himself, suggest that it be a time when his mother or somebody similarly experienced with babies is available to run back-up for him. This way, you can find out if it's truly his daughter he's trying to avoid, or just you.

Even if he's wanting access time for the wrong reason (to stick it to you, to avoid CS, because he loves his bar time, whatever) at least he's giving his daughter some fatherly attention. She's not going to have a clue about his real reasons at her age, and they'll have the opportunity to become more comfortable with each other and develop that necessary bond.

You're caught in a circle of not wanting him to have access until she's comfortable with him, and him not having enough time with her to develop that comfort level. You can't affect her comfort level without giving them the time first, no matter how uncomfortable it is at the start, for both daughter AND you. You're going to bawl your eyes out the first few times you hand your daughter over to a daycare and she isn't happy about it. But it will be essential because you have to work. This is nearly the same, except that the handover isn't because you have to work, but because father and daughter have to have time together.

As for the factual elements of your case, his lies in his brief, the feeding issues, etc. Those you deal with with facts and logic as well. Counter his lies with your facts, show the judge your journal of his visit history, etc. But you aren't doing this to keep the baby from him, you're just showing that the access needs to be slow and gradual. Have a proposal for an increasing access schedule, starting with unsupervised visit of a few hours duration, and once she takes a bottle from HIM (it may be that she just doesn't like bottles from you because she knows her preferred alternative is RIGHT THERE) reliably, work it up to full days and overnights. Don't just say "no, he's a liar," to the judge, say "that isn't accurate, but here's my proposal for making his access work."

Lastly, as I understand it, the purpose of a case conference is for you both to present your sides/desires to a judge, and for the judge to evaluate how a decision in court might go, and let you know what a likely outcome might be, in the hopes that this will spur you guys to negotiate something on your own without the need for a trial. The main message will probably be that the ex needs to pay child support right away.
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Old 07-08-2013, 08:23 AM
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gsmommy,

In addition to the excellent advice provided by HappyDays, Rioe and SOTS here is an additional thread you may want to consider reading that may assist you in understanding the purpose of a case conference:

http://www.ottawadivorce.com/forum/f...arified-15545/

Case conferences are a mediated solution. The Case Conference Brief does not generally form part of the continuing record before the court and is usually returned to both parties. You can't rely upon any statement made in a conference brief as although they are signed by the party they are not sword evidence. So, the other party is free to allege that the moon is made of cheese or spare ribs. Understanding this fact may assist you in not dwelling on the "lies" contained in conference briefs. Conferences briefs (except in extreme circumstances) are disposable documents in a family law proceeding in Ontario.

In addition, the Application and Response in a family law proceeding are not sworn testimony. Again, they are signed by the litigant but, not endorsed as sworn testimony. I wouldn't recommend anyone put nonsense in their Application but, often people do... If the matter is serious enough it can be demonstrated as "bad faith" if their position in the application was unreasonable and costs can be awarded accordingly.

FYI: Affidavits (sworn testimony to truth) are... So the Form 35.1, Form 13/13.1 and an Affidavit as theya re sworn to "the truth" ("elusive truth" that is...).

Something to review when considering "the truth" in a matter in the context of Family Law is the following case law:

Mustapic v. Capin, 2012 ONSC 3208 (CanLII)
Date: 2012-06-08
Docket: FS-04-052373-01
URL: CanLII - 2012 ONSC 3208 (CanLII)
Citation: Mustapic v. Capin, 2012 ONSC 3208 (CanLII)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Justice Mossip
The “truth” will not set this family free, because there is no one single truth.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Justice Mossip
[19] How this family actually got to the place that I have heard about since May, 2011, only they will know; and they only know through their unique and individual perspectives. As Catherine Gildiner wrote in the preface to her book, After the Falls, (Toronto: Alfred A. Knopf Canada, 2009):
Memory is a tricky business. No two people remember things the same way. Memory is not a recording device; it is the brain’s way of allowing us to select moments in order to interpret our pasts. All the images on file in our brains pass through elaborate screens of unconscious needs and emerge as memories.
To that quote I would add that the filtering process we go through helps us “save” ourselves, so that we can present ourselves in the best light possible. It is only through years of often painful therapy that we can understand how much we may have filtered our own experiences to save ourselves. There is nothing insidious or wrong about this process; it is part of the human brain’s brilliance. It is not someone else telling us we are “wrong” in our memory that gives us insight; it is our own reflecting, with professional assistance, that leads us to that level of awareness and understanding about ourselves.

[20] The mother and father before me have very different memories of what happened in their 11 years of cohabitation and their 11 years post-separation. So too do their children have very different memories. As I just set out, there is nothing surprising or unusual about that fact. What is sad for the Court is the amount of time, money, energy, and emotional angst, that these parties have engaged in to convince themselves, the other party, the children, their friends, the professionals involved, and now the Court, that their truth is the “real truth”; that their version of events is what actually happened.

[21] Dr. Clive Chamberlain, a renowned psychiatrist who has specialized in children and adolescent issues for over 40 years testified before me on an alienation case several years ago. When he was asked about how the parties got to the place they were at trial, and who was to blame, I always recall his words, “That’s a bit of a mug’s game.” That expression means “a futile or unprofitable endeavour.” In other words, “Judge, don’t waste your time, you’ll never figure it out to anyone’s complete satisfaction. Let’s deal with what we have in front of us now.”

[22] It is for the above reasons and several others that this decision will not be deciding whose version of the “truth” is more accurate. In my view, such an attempt to microscopically look at 22 years of family dynamics would be a waste of time, would make no one happy with the result, but most importantly, would not in any way help the M. children, most of all L., who is the subject of the trial before me.
Engaging in a process of seeking "the truth" before the family court will not bear much fruit usually and will only serve to impair any relationship you need to maintain with the other parent in their "best interests".

In addition this thread may be of assistance to you as you contemplate the access regime for a child under the age of three.

http://www.ottawadivorce.com/forum/f...3-years-11597/

I do not recommend using "breastfeeding" as a reason to prevent access to the other parent. You can pump and provide milk. In the alternative the other parent can propose using a milk bank and other community services to obtain breast milk from people who donate it. There are many creative ideas to insure that even a child who is breastfeeding has equal residency with both parents.

Something to consider is that there is now a Father in Canada who is successfully breastfeeding his child:

http://www.milkjunkies.net/

Although a radical concept, it has gained national attention (Toronto Star, et all...) and is really changing the view of males roles in this area. Although some would consider it to be abnormal it is NOT impossible and NOT abnormal in my personal opinion.

In addition, I encourage you to leverage the search feature on this site and search out the various topics of "breastfeeding" and its impact on custody and access of minor children.

Good Luck!
Tayken

Last edited by Tayken; 07-08-2013 at 08:34 AM.
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