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  • Ex's Spouse

    Every since my ex has moved away to live with his now wife, she is always emailing me about kids and wants all the information to go through her. She is very controlling of all three of them, my ex and my kids I find.
    She refused to let me talk to my own children tonight over the phone.
    They live 3 hours away and she told me not tonight and hung up. I then tried to call back to which she would pick it up and hang up without saying anything. I repeatedly called and the same thing happened over and over again. My ex's phone then got turned off as well.

    Does she have any legal rights when it comes to my children???
    I know most women usually don't leave their children, and I do have my reasons due to a mental illness and left them with him knowing it would be better for them at the time. I get them every other weekend and she was soo nice to tell me in an email that I am only their mother by blood cuz I haven't mothered them in a long time.

    Anyone have any information on this...please please let me know

  • #2
    We can't tell if she has legal rights or not without more information. Generally, she would not. If their father has full legal guardianship and custody, she is their step-mother. Usually though she would have to legal adopt to have full decision making powers. In practice even if only the father has decision making, he would likely support her.

    Do you have daily telephone access written into the custody agreement? It's not uncommon to have it written in. If not, then you might not have a formal complaint there.

    She was certainly rude to say no without a reasonable explanation. There may have been a big spill to clean up or something like that, just before bed, it may hve been an unusually awkward time.

    I can see how repeatedly calling back would have annoyed them and they turned their phones off. That was not a good thing to do. In a situation like this, if it gets to the point where you folllow up with a legal complaint, you want to be able to show you were perfectly reasonable and she wasn't. Getting into a phoning match muddy's the water there.

    You should keep that email and try to keep email contact because that gives you a record of her being rude and unco-operative. You should be polite and reasonable in your own emails, so that you can show that the problem is all at her end. Avoid getting into shouting matches or any kind of argument on the phone, email is a wonderful invention for having a record of your discussions.

    I always tell my ex to email me because I can't remember phone calls so if we need to work something out like remembering mittens or changing the pick up time or what a jerk I am, it all gets recorded on an email. I have a wonderful collection of abusive emails and am getting an non-harrassment order. My lawyer says they are impossible to enforce, but it lets me feel smug for a while.

    You should ask them to set up a web-cam for the kids and you should too, they are as little as $20 and will let you have live video connections. The kids will find it fun and you can get to see them as well. Suggest this by email and if they refuse it will also show them as being unreasonable and unwilling to allow you reasonable contact.

    In an email, ask what would be the best time to call, etc and try to set up some kind of regular schedule, either after school to ask about their day, or before bedtime to say goodnight. Call when they expect you, and gently suggest that if it is awkward one evening due to problems, they can call earlier or later as need be.

    In the long run you are better off looking for solutions than you are picking a fight. If it comes to a fight, then you can point out how you offered all of these reasonable solutions.


    • #3
      He does have full custody, but he is the one I should be dealing with really not here right?
      I sent the kids a webcam, it got sent back saying they will not use those in their house.
      This orginally was my weekend to have them, and I do usually call them on sunday regardless.
      We tried to work on an arrangement of the phone calls and they couldn't work anything out because they felt it wasn't important enough to give me the time regarding it.
      She is only their step mother and she will never adopt my children.


      • #4
        I am sure that there are bad feelings on both sides for whatever reasons. Set a time to call the kids and have it in writing. When she said that it wasn't a good time and hung up the phone on you we have no idea of what was happening on her end. For you to continually call after being told it wasn't a good time is borderline harrassment. As for the webcam, I can see no problem with that unless they are limiting the kids computer use to just homework stuff and not msn etc.

        When you called back the first time after her saying it wasn't okay I take it you were mad so maybe not exactly all sweetness? You should have left it alone that night and tried to call in a few days. Better yet sent an email to there father asking when was a good time to call.


        • #5
          This seems like you would be better off with a third party mediator. Possibly a professional or at least a family friend or relative that both sides can trust to put the kids first.

          Both sides need to have a schedule for phone calls that can be relied on. You NEED to talk to your children regularly. They need to be able to expect when you will call, plan it into the evening routine, deal with household issues that always come up with kids, house guests, etc.

          I was originally your weekend, it doesn't really matter who had to cancel or why, when the weekend was cancelled you should have scheduled phone calls then, and rescheduled your time with them.

          There should be no issues with having a web cam to have time with your children. This is an issue where if you were with a mediator or a judge, they would side completely with you. Dad and step-mom may have issues with computer use but this is 21'st century communication, it would be like in 1909 saying you wouldn't have "one of those" about a telephone.

          Obviously you don't have a great personal relationship with the step-mom for whatever reason. Neither of you should let that get in the way of having a relationship with your children. This really needs a third party to step in and give some objectivity.


          • #6
            scared1, the step mom has deal with the kid's bedtime routine, getting them to tidy up their clutter, cleaning their spills, doing their laundry, cooking for them, getting them to finish their dinner, limiting their time on the tv and computer, making sure their homework gets done, getting them up in the morning, making sure they have their homework in their bags. Etc. Etc. Etc.

            Yeah, In loco parentis. She is actually parenting, and in order to get these things done, and get them to stop picking their noses at the dinner table, she needs to have some authority over them.

            God help the family if judge "rules otherwise". A non-custodial parent can't raise the kids from a distance. I appreciate shared decision making, but what goes on in my home is under my control, sorry.

            I realize it's scary to be a non-custodial parent, but running to a judge to open the fight again and turning them into a commodity to be fought over, isn't necessarily in the kid's best interest at this point. What's in the kid's interest is to develop a positive, caring relationship with the level of access they have now, and forming a good, co-operative, working relationship with each other.


            • #7
              I am not looking into going to court or whatever, it is the whole situation of me calling them and if plans have to be rearranged, he is the one that I should be dealing with, not her.

              I really have nothing to do with her, she doesn't know me or what goes on in my life, so she shouldn't judge me., especially telling me i am not a mother.


              • #8
                no, she shouldn't be telling you that you aren't a mother, that is hurtful and untrue. However, it is fair to acknowledge her importance in your children's lives. Have you thanked her for taking care of them? I know that sounds harsh, but if she is mothering them, a little credit goes a long way.

                I think in this case some arranged phone calls would be best. Just because the dad has custody does not mean your involvement is less important. You should be dealing with the father, but of course that doesn't always happen. Could you ask that you 2 have a discussion about phone calls and web cam and explain that you don't want this to go to court, you just want more time with your kids? If you focus on their needs to speak with you I hope they will be reasonable.


                • #9
                  I do realize that sometimes the father will not be available and I would have to deal with her, but I don't think I should have to every time I call there. She always answers the phone, they have caller id, put the kids on when i call and we won't have to have any interractions at all.
                  As far as the phone was a big deal before him saying that I called all the time when they were busy etc. So I said well you tell me when is good for me to call. He couldn't give me an answer. As far as the webcam he refuses to use it in their house.
                  She wants me to follow her rules, and I refuse to anymore, I tried to be nice and look what it got me.
                  Now I can't even talk to them


                  • #10
                    write them a letter suggesting you set up a telephone and webcam access schedule. Have it registered, so they can't deny it arrived. Courts look really favourably on schedules, as the kids will know when to expect you to be there for them. I know you don't want to go this way, but maybe having it come to them that way will let them know you are serious.

                    I really don't see the problem with the webcam access. All you would be able to see was the child and the room the computer is in. I think they would be very happy to see your smiling face every few days!


                    • #11
                      He has full custody and I am to have them every other weekend and they made a schedule for the following year.


                      • #12
                        All I really want to know is should I really have to deal with her at all??
                        I mean when I call she always answers the phone...always. She is the one that is always sending the emails. She is the one who is always telling me when they will be coming if they are late etc. I think when my ex met her, he gave her rights to talk for him too.
                        They live 3 hours away from me and I am on disability so I do not have very much money left over for the month.
                        Last night she was sooo nice to tell me again of how good a mother I was of not being there with my son for his operation...he was having his adnoids out, I told her obviously I am not welcome there and really I believe now she tries to control me and intimidates me and in my state I can't deal with that. I told my son before he went in about why I couldn't go...why does she have to be so hurtful, when really she doesnt' even know me and why do I have to justify myself to her?
                        Now that I have seen her yelling at me on the phone, while my kids where there, I wonder what else she has been telling them or filling their heads about me. I can't do this anymore, it is causing too much stress on myself right now. I spent a month in a physc unit in the summer, due to stress. I am bi-polar and she thinks that I use that as a poor me situation, well if she knew anything about mental illness then she would at least understand some. I have explained it to my children and she says that I make them feel sorry for me now too. I dont' make them feel sorry for me, I explain why I left them with their father so I didnt'' mess them up.
                        I needed to get better first before I could take care of them. She doesn't really know me at all and she shouldn't be judging me.
                        When I left, I only took necessity things and left him the rest. We sold the house and split that, but he took all other posessions. Now he is married with 2 incomes, left the city, and I am on disability barely scraping by and he still wants me to pay support.

                        I reallydon't understand how some people are oblivious to their own needs and wants.
                        I did tell her once that I knew my kids where happy there and I was glad that they had a stable environment finally, after my ex had moved them around the city 3 times.
                        Once she came into the picture things moved way to fast and they were gone. All of the children's family lives here.
                        It is her making all the decisions you can tell, and when he sends emails which is rare, you can tell they are her telling him what to write.
                        I was with my ex since i was 15 and i am 43 now and we separated 2 years ago. I think I can tell if he is saying that or not, we spent enough time together.

                        What is her purpose besides trying to make my life HELL!!!!


                        • #13
                          Look, she's behaving in an awful way, but you ask what her purpose is. It's two things. One, you were with your ex for so long, and she is new. So much of his life is the remnants of you, both with the kids, the belongings, and his memories and his daily habits. She's establishing her territory, like a preditor going around pissing on the tree, marking it with her scent.

                          In part, the insecurities she feels are natural. The other part, she's not dealing with those insecurities in a civil way.

                          You cannot change her. She may change with time, but nothing you can do will change that situation. Period. OK?

                          Your ex works. You should not make a habit of calling him 16 times a day at work, and from the sounds of things he may have asked you not to. However you have to deal with him about the kids. A short, simple, civil, unemotional phone call that just deals with times for phone calls and drop offs. Don't complain or mention his wife, because at work is not a legitimate time to expect him to deal with any emotional issues or negotiations. But short calls to set up appointments for calls and visits.

                          Secondly, you need to make a list. A list of what you need from this situation. You need to call your children. How often? What time? You need to have scheduled visits with regular pick up and drop off. What times? You would like to web cam. You should be civil but firm about this. Make a positive list of all the things that you need for your kids. Try to avoid negatives about the step-mother.

                          Send the list by email and also by postal mail to the husband. If possible, send it to his work rather than home. If you don't get a response, or don't get co-operation, then get a family member involved to mediate your simple, reasonable requests.

                          Please don't worry too much about what she may say about you to the children. The last person they will listen to trashing their mother, is their step-mother, this kind of thing will backfire badly.

                          Finally, my sister is bipolar, and I am treated for depression. I know how terribly hard this can be at times. Speak to your doctor, and hopefully you have a therapist, about all of your concerns. Ask them to help you get referals to family councelling. Don't be alone in this, it's hard enough for anyone, it's terrible for someone who is also suffering an illness on top of everything else.


                          • #14
                            I have never called him at his work...ever. I send him the emails, but she returns them on his behalf or he won't even answer his. I know it is a very tough time and your right I think from now on if there is an issue and he won't answer I am going to have to get someone else to contact him. I did what I thought was best for my children when I left, by getting myself better.
                            He never believed that there was anything wrong with me then, never understood depression etc. and quite frankly still doesn't.
                            I always maintained a job when I was with him only becasue I did at one time ask if I could go off of work to which he told me we can't afford it.
                            Once I left, everything fell into place with my disease and was properly diagnosed.
                            She says she knows bi-polar, but I honestly do not think she does as she says you are making yourself out to be the poor little me girl..everyone feel sorry for me and that I have gotten my kids to think that too.
                            All I have told my children is, is what it is called and a brief description.

                            It is very hard on top of all of this you are right, but thank god I have very supportive family and friends and an awesome man who is understanding and supportive in my life now.
                            The guilt will never go away about leaving my own children, but I am hoping someday when they are old enough to be on their own, they will understand and see what really goes on.


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by sharong593
                              All I really want to know is should I really have to deal with her at all??
                              Coming from a stepmom's perspective...

                              All parents, biological and step (or "bonus"), are involved in the lives of these children, and should be treated with respect in this regard. My stepson's mom has tried for years to make sure that I am left "out of the loop" but a judge finally told her that it is the reality that her child has 3 parents, and may even have 4 if she ever marries, and that ALL 3 or 4 parents need to co-operate and communicate with one another in regards to the children. The final decision making is ultimately legally up to the 2 biological parents, but all parent-figures are affected by these decisions, and all should be involved in the process.

                              My stepson's mom did not like this one bit, but it has caused her to lay off a little bit (not much, but better than how it was before) from always trying to leave me out (yet running to me when there is something she knows I can help with). I talk to her only when I have to, that is when my husband is not available. We're always civil and polite.

                              I think that given your situation, where your ex has custody and his wife, the children's stepmom, is caring for them as a biological mother would, you need to realize that every little decision also affects her as well.

                              I do not agree with the way she is acting (hanging up the phone on you, not letting you talk to your ex or your kids, etc.) and that definitely needs to stop. Maybe she's trying to be protective of herself and her family... thinking that if she is in control and knows what is going on at all times, there is less of a chance that she will get hurt?

                              I think a good plan of action would be to acknowledge her and acknowledge all that she does for your kids. Maybe let her your ex know that anything you discuss with him, he can discuss with his wife prior to getting back to you with a response? This might make her feel better and not assume that if she lets the two of you talk, that you two will make decisions that will affect her without her knowledge. Start slow, and work up to the arrangement you seek.

                              And dont' forget about the phone schedule! I think that's a great idea!

                              (Then again, I'm the stepmom that encourages her stepson to call his mom, and that abides by the call schedule and that hands the phone over to the child right when it rings and the caller ID says it's her calling.)

                              I know this is frustrating for you, and angering as well, but deep down, aren't you grateful that the children are cared for well? I know I would be. Imagine they had a stepmom like in Cinderella?! Yikes!!!


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