wutanglady's picture
wutanglady

Stepson does not want to go back to his Mom's house

I have been with my husband for 5 years, married for one. I have a 9 yr old daughter and a 7 year old stepson. We live in NC and my stepson lives in FL with his mother and her boyfriend.

We went through a few years of hard times with my husband's ex girlfriend where she wouldn't let their son see his father at all. They never went to court although my husband pays plenty of child support voluntarily. She would tell her son horrible things like his daddy didn't love him and things of that nature. After being threatened with court she picks up and moves from VA to FL with no notice and has been living there for a few years. She has recently moved into her boyfriend of less than one years home.

As of Dec. 2008 she let him come stay with us for Christmas of that year, Spring Break of 2009, several weeks of Summer 09, Christmas 09, and Spring Break 2010. When he first started coming to visit he told us that he had to pretend to not like me or his mommy would be mad at him. This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to some of the things he told us while he was really little.

Now that he has been visiting us regularly, he has expressed that he does not want to go home to FL to his moms. He says that he would rather live with us and just visit with her. When asked for reasons he tells us that our house is nicer, we play with him, we cook him food, his moms boyfriend has a dog that bites him and draws blood, he doesn't have many friends there, no one helps him with his homework, etc.

Right before the Christmas 2009 visit he was sexually abused in FL while playing with some other children. His mother let him ride the bus home with older children in another neighborhood while she was still at work. Apparently the children were playing a few streets over unsupervised in a tree house and another child sexually abused my stepson. He told his mother about it that night and she waited until 1 in the morning to call the local authorities and make a report. She took him to one required meeting about this incident but has never followed through with any kind of counseling for him.
During this visit he cried to us many times about wanting to live with us instead. We explained to him that his mother will not let him live with us and go to school. I have all of this on video.

During this last Spring Break visit we noticed that his hygeine was not at it's greatest. His fingernails were very very long and completely filthy when we picked him up from the airport.(we buy all plane tickets) His toenails were so long they were starting to curl over. (took photos) After noticing him scratching his behind we find out he has pinworms inside of him. He tells us that he told his mom about his butt itching weeks ago and she didn't do anything about it. Towards the end of this visit he begs us to live here and even goes as far as to ask his mom on the phone if he could stay with us. He asked her if he could go to school with us and she told him no, he gets off the phone with her and cries in my arms begging me not to make him go back to FL. A few days prior while at a local wishing well he walked up to the well with the other children and made a wish to never have to go back to FL ever again.

He has been back in FL with her for about a week now and she calls us last night to tell us that he is getting in trouble at school for hugging and kissing little girls in his classroom. I have researched depression in children and he has a lot of the symptoms such as crying easily, wanting to be alone, being worried, feeling worthless and powerless.

His mother told him that when he is 12 years old they can talk about it but not until then. What should his father and I do about this? We don't want to battle her in court but we also don't want him growing up unhappy.



SnglDad's picture
SnglDad

The time to do something has long passed. Something should have been done when she left the state with the child several years ago. Had dad been on the ball he would have gotten an attorney and asked the court to have the child returned back to NC. Now that she has had the child in FL for more than 6 months, FL is going to have jurisdiction over this situation. Dad may not want to go to court, but if what you say here is true as to the child’s living situation, this is not about what dad wants, this is about what dad needs to do to help his son. As parents, we sometimes have to step outside of our comfort zone to do what we believe is best for our children. As I see it there are two choices here; Dad can take the time that the mother will allow him to have with his son, or he can file for visitation in FL. Call the local BAR Assoc and ask for a referral to an attorney who specializes in child custody matters, not a divorce attorney. You may be able to get a free phone consultation.

wutanglady's picture
wutanglady

Thank you for your reponse and information. My husband has always said since day one that he didn't want to fight with her, and did not want to make his son go through a drawn out custody battle. I agree with you completely, and I told him to do something many years ago when she took the child to FL as you said. My husband seems to think that because there is no custody agreement, that he can just keep his son here after a visit and not return him to her. I think this will cause an even bigger mess than we are already in with her. Is it true that if he files papers here first that she will have to come here for court?

Sister83's picture
Sister83

I agree with SinglDad. You need to get a lawyer ASAP to explain these things to you and to help you.

The law can be confusing, vary from state to state, and there can also be special uniform rules for child custody cases. I wouldn't necessarily rely on any legal advice or information you get here or elsewhere on the internet.

Sister83's picture
Sister83

I cut myself off...

In other words, the lawyer can tell you what motion/petition to file, and in which state you should file it.

Good luck.

SnglDad's picture
SnglDad

Under The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act, the “home state” for the child will be the state that the child has resided in for the prior 6 months. If your husband attempts to keep the child from the mother he will do himself more harm than good; It could actually be considered kidnapping. As of now Florida is considered the childs “home state” dad needs to contact a lawyer there to find out what his next step should be. Keeping the child from his mother will take the courts attention away from those concerns you have stated here.

One other thing that will come up. Since mom and dad were not married at the time of the child birth, paternity may need to be established,even if dad is on the BC.

If you speak with an attorney let him know that dad has been paying support for the son. It may be considered "a gift". In FL a judge can order child support to be payed for two years back. Keep all records of paymnents sent to her.

wutanglady's picture
wutanglady

I know that the age is supposedly 12 years old when the children can have a say in the matter but does it not count at all what the child says at 7 years old?

So the only way for him to even begin the court battle is to find an attorney over 13 hours away and probably pay well over several grand just to even get it through court? That's what he feels like he is faced with and does not think he can put his son through that.

It seems to me like the system does not work for the children and does not take the child's best interest at heart. This child would remain in the mother's home for well over another year until it finally went to court and then she could deny everything and still get to keep him. He is clearly unhappy but feels as if he has no say so. It is very sad and I can only say that I am glad my daughter's father and I get along wonderfully and don't drag our child through the mud so to speak. What a wonderful justice system we have, all about the almighty dollar.

mayamay's picture
mayamay

You could look into moving to Florida.

SnglDad's picture
SnglDad

In part I agree with you, but I think something that is being overlooked is that going through the proper channels will have its benefits. Dad will be recognized as the childs legal father. If custody does not change, dad can ask for court ordered visitation with his son. With court ordered visitation dad will not have to ask to see his son, or feel as if he needs to walk on egg shells to keep the ex happy.
If dad decides to pursue this, a guardian ad litem may be appointed to represent the best interest of the child. A guardian ad litem will meet with both parents, the child, and will make a report to the court.
The courts are good at insulating the children from being involved in the legal process. I truly doubt that the stress would be any greater than what he feels right now by not wanting to live with his mother. At the very least a GAL could recommend counseling to help the child deal with the stress he is already feeling.
If dad truly feels his son will have better opportunities in life, a more structured and secure environment, and a better quality of life living with him, he should at least contact an attorney and see what his options are. I know it’s expensive. I fought for custody for two years, and spent almost a years salary on an attorney. My attorney did well for himself, but also did a great job for me. For the bargain price of a years salary, I tuck my kids in bed every night; I wouldn’t trade that for anything.

One thing I forgot to say is that I understand that the child feels as if he has no say in what happens to him. The GAL is the voice of the child in the court.

wutanglady's picture
wutanglady

We couldn't sell our house in this economy if we tried!

wutanglady's picture
wutanglady

I understand that every mother parents differently but it should always be in the best interest of the child no matter what. I don't feel that is the case for my stepson when he is in FL. Do I think he is physically abused at home or anything like that, NO, but I don't think he lives a very good life, or as good as it should be anyway.

As a stepmother it seems as if I am putting my nose in where it doesn't belong most of the time. I try to keep my opinions to myself when I speak to the mother but sometimes you just have to speak the obvious when it comes to hygeine and such.

I feel like my stepson is depressed, I have done research and he is very open with me. Hopefully his mother will step up to the plate now that we have voiced these concerns with her.