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How to communicate after a contentious divorce... Following a contentious divorce and custody battle, there are often high emotion and tensions between the parents. Research shows that constant and chronic conflict between the parents negatively impacts the children. The children sense their parents anxiety in their voice, their body language and their parents behavior. Here are some suggestions from Dean Stacer on how to avoid conflict.
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Author Topic: Emotional abuse of D13 is escalating  (Read 291 times)
I Am Redeemed
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« on: January 14, 2022, 09:34:13 PM »

I realize some of you don't know the background, so quick summary: my sister has guardianship of my oldest 5 kids. I am still stuck with supervised visitation only, though I have full custody of S6. I am nearing the end of collecting all documentation to present to my lawyer for a hearing to modify the parenting plan so I can have my kids for visits unsupervised.

D13 is questioning her sexual orientation and has claimed to be bisexual, transgender, and now most likely settled on gender fluid. My sister is totally against this and is emotionally abusing D13 because of it.

Got a call from sis last night. She found journals that D13 has written in which D13 expresses much anger about the way she is being treated and frustration that she is being sent to counseling to make her "not be gay". She called my sister abusive, homophobic, a f****** b****, and said she has told her friends she wishes she could kill her.

Sis, predictably, exploded and was calling D13 a liar, saying sarcastically that it's really nice to know that she is a F****** B****, that she is NOT abusive and NOT homophobic because "my cousin J was gay".

J was my cousin, too, btw, not just hers. I'm 44 years old, J has been dead for six years, and this is the first time in my entire life that anyone ever mentioned him being gay (though when she said it, it clicked for me and I was validated because I always thought it was true, yet no one talked about it. It was ignored and the family pretended like that detail did not exist).

Sis is now paranoid that D13 and her friends are actually plotting to murder her and she plans to defend herself. She said "I watch those murder documentaries, and I've got a gun and I'm training with it. No psychotic kid is going to come after me, or there's going to be a dead kid". This is my sister saying this to me about MY CHILD.

 D13 is present in the room listening to this, btw, and D14 is texting me while its going on saying she hates my sister and that the little kids are also listening to this. She said sis and BIL had been going through D13's things for two hours, and that my sister is mad because "D13 loves you more".

I am afraid that any communication between me and D14 is going to be monitored. I encouraged her to take deep breaths, find something to help her relax, and not look too far into the future but take one moment or day at a time. I also encouraged her that she and D13 should both tell their trauma therapist about this.

I don't know what else to do at this point. I will be telling my own therapist as well at my next appointment.

I have a lot of stress on me right now. I'm still struggling to get the last requirements finished so I can present my lawyer with a completed to do list and we can finally file a petition. I'm still taking an online class, but I lost a childcare resource because D14 is no longer allowed to babysit, I don't know who's going to keep my kid when in-person class starts back, I just started my first internship and that means I am down to just three shifts at work (because, again, childcare issues...I can't pick up nights or weekends at the restaurant without a babysitter), and now this. I'm just...worn out, guys, really.  

D14 is extremely worried about the impact this is having on D13 as well as the little ones. My sister point blank asked me if I was planning on trying to get D13 back, to which I replied that I would love to have her back...all of them. Then she made snide remarks that if I do get her back, I should be prepared for a teen pregnancy and drugs. Her voice dripped with contempt and I know D13 was there listening. All the kids were.

This is just...I don't know. The fact that my sister is this disordered and has a gun in the house (and is practicing using it in case she has to shoot my daughter in self defense) is just a level of WTF that I have not dealt with before.

Thanks for listening to my long vent.
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GaGrl
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« Reply #1 on: January 15, 2022, 10:31:12 AM »

I can see several things happening...

One or both of the therapists report the situation to CPS, and it becomes a CPS case.

You let your lawyer know what is going on, provide documentation, and L recommends quick next steps. Ex parte to move custody of the two oldest (at least) to you immediately?

I'm so sorry -- I know you must be drained.

What are you thinking might happen next?
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« Reply #2 on: January 15, 2022, 12:03:23 PM »

One individual is a child. The other is an adult, who is paid to be responsible for the younger.

I’m in agreement with GaGrl that this situation needs to be blown up through the governmental agencies that are providing your sister with funds.

Completely unacceptable for an adult to respond this way to a child in her care.
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« Reply #3 on: January 15, 2022, 12:08:52 PM »

If you are near a college or university, here’s a great suggestion about childcare from GaGrl on another thread:

many universities have an on-site daycare facility not only to support employees but also to provide education and experience for students in the Child Development programs -- usually associated with the College of Education.

Additionally, the students in that program might be available for part-time work.
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« Reply #4 on: January 15, 2022, 01:09:10 PM »

I'm hoping that my daughters' T does make a report. They are receiving counseling through the child advocacy center who works closely with CPS.

Good idea about the university. I'm attending graduate school at a local university, so this may be something I can ask my professors about.

One of my professors is sending my recommendation letter today. After that, a hair follicle test and pictures of my house are all that's left on my to do list for my attorney.

I need another set of bunk beds because I currently don't have enough beds for each child (attorney said they can not share a bed). I have some resources to check out that might help me with that. Or, I could just take the pics now and tell my attorney I can have pics of the beds after I get them, before we go to court.

My attorney had told me to not try to highlight misconduct on my sister's part (denying visits, etc.) Because this judge is biased against people who lost custody in a cps case. Attorney said my attitude should be that I'm grateful my family took in my kids.

But there's a big difference in denying regular visits, using visits as a privilege to be taken away from children, and the level of abuse that this latest incident entails.

I wondered if I should record phone calls. Need to find out laws in my state for that.
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I Am Redeemed
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« Reply #5 on: January 15, 2022, 01:11:53 PM »

One individual is a child. The other is an adult, who is paid to be responsible for the younger.

I’m in agreement with GaGrl that this situation needs to be blown up through the governmental agencies that are providing your sister with funds.

Completely unacceptable for an adult to respond this way to a child in her care.

Not only that, but my BIL was present and if not participating in the verbal abuse, he at least did nothing to step in and tell his wife (my sister) to stop. Literally no one challenges her behavior.
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« Reply #6 on: January 15, 2022, 07:06:39 PM »

I wondered if I should record phone calls. Need to find out laws in my state for that.

Some states have two party laws where both parties have to acknowledge the recording.  However, my impression was that it largely applies to officialdom, conditions where big brother shouldn't record.  Maybe my impression is wrong or incomplete?

https://www.justia.com/50-state-surveys/recording-phone-calls-and-conversations/

A VM, email or text is totally okay to preserve because the sender has no control over the message after given or sent.  Also, abuse voids the legal concerns, as I understand it.  Not sure about persons or children recounting abuse since that can raise concerns about improper influence, etc.

How does the legal aspect handle the fact that your youngest is being raised without restrictions on your parenting but the older ones, some approaching adulthood, have only limited contact?

I'm assuming it is like other legal perspectives, such as when my ex was given temp custody even though she was facing a Threat of DV charge at the beginning.  I was told that just because a spouse is facing concerns about her adult behaviors does not extend to her parenting behaviors, as though she were two people and two separate legal issues?
« Last Edit: January 15, 2022, 07:12:23 PM by ForeverDad » Logged

I Am Redeemed
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« Reply #7 on: January 15, 2022, 08:07:18 PM »

I may not be able to use recordings in court but it's possible I can use them to show my attorney or T how my sister really acts to the kids. I would not record the children, though I will save texts.

From what I understand, the fact that I have full custody of my son and he is well taken care of will just strengthen my case for unsupervised visits.

Since dcs is out of the picture after my sister got guardianship, it's basically up to me to prove that I fulfilled every action step on the last parenting plan (and then some, such as divorcing exubph, getting a degree, and beginning a master's program with a 4.0 GPA- all not required by dcs, but steps I have taken on my own to better my life).

Incidentally, the last time I was in front of this judge regarding paying child support to my sister, he shook his head upon finding out that I retained full custody of my youngest, saying he would never understand why someone would be allowed to keep one child when they can't take care of the rest, and he and my sister seemed to exchange "mmm mmm mmm" musings over the brokeness of the system, as if it weren't completely the opposite: if I was considered a safe parent for one child, why did dcs fight so hard to keep the others from me?

Answer: incompetent social workers who engaged in unethical behavior and violated the NASW code of ethics, something I have a greater understanding of now that I am in graduate school and have several PhD level social worker contacts that I can consult, in addition to my attorney.
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« Reply #8 on: January 16, 2022, 10:23:29 AM »

You have great resources to draw upon in addition to your excellent scholastic record.  Way to go! (click to insert in post)

I can’t imagine that seeing what you present wouldn’t sway any judge. And you are paying child support to your sister, in addition to what she receives from the state, which seems quite generous if I remember correctly?

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« Reply #9 on: January 16, 2022, 10:42:31 AM »

I am paying child support. I've been paying it for years, and this was a source of contention for a while because the state was keeping the support I paid to offset the almost $4000/month subsidy she receives as a foster-parent-turned-guardian.

She took me back to child support court last August, in the county where we all now live (separate county from where this case originated) and new support guidelines were set that are actually extremely reasonable. She told the judge she wasn't receiving support and I brought paperwork proving that I paid it. They told her to call the DA to inquire about why she wasn't receiving it, though I tried to explain to her that the state will keep the child support to offset benefit costs if a guardian or custodial parent is over poverty level income. I haven't heard anything else about it, so maybe they explained it to her.

I have fears that if abuse is reported by the T, it will be ignored because my sister "looks good on paper". Christian family, nice house, support system that includes church members, no history of drugs or alcohol or criminal record... The kind of family where abuse can fly under the radar and be undetected and the children may not be believed or be discounted as troubled children making up lies.
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« Reply #10 on: January 16, 2022, 11:08:41 AM »

But I thought she made comments that she couldn't handle the children?

I've always commented here that long term supervised or extremely limited contact is not desired by the court and they encourage that more reasonable contact is a desirable goal.  That alone, in addition to you parenting another child without restriction, ought to mean something.

If the reason all this started was due to marriage to a problem spouse, then getting divorced ought to have been the resolution of the problem.  After all, it wasn't you yourself as the problem, it was the situation with the ex.  As I see it.
« Last Edit: January 16, 2022, 11:14:33 AM by ForeverDad » Logged

I Am Redeemed
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« Reply #11 on: January 16, 2022, 01:05:40 PM »

But I thought she made comments that she couldn't handle the children?

She has, particularly with D13 and S10, though she claims S10 has gotten much better since ADHD medication.

However, her MO is to throw comments into every conversation about how if I had all the kids and had to deal with what she deals with, I wouldn't be able to do it because" even with me and (BIL) together it's almost too much".

But then she will randomly say she's ready to just give D13 back to me just to get rid of her. She's all over the place and her moods change on a dime. She's extremely self centered and finds her self worth into making the kids little versions of her to prove what a great parent she is and she demands devotion, love, and gratitude from them or she rages. It's the same that I experienced as a child when she took over raising me after my mother's suicide attempt. I have no doubt she would have tried to take me from my parents had she been in a position to do so.

My attorney, however, belies along the lines of what you said... I am no longer involved in an abusive marriage and have taken very proactive steps.

But my sister believes she is the best parent on earth and that these children are hers now. She enjoys having complete control. She will fight me if there's any indication that I might get custody over her. It's all about her image, her self worth that's wrapped up in martyrdom and how she rescued these kids from an abusive father and a mother who chose an abuser over her own kids (her narrative).
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kells76
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« Reply #12 on: January 16, 2022, 09:50:32 PM »

IAR, it's a good plan to have the kids tell their T what's going on and you tell your T what's going on.

Are you in a "mandatory reporter" state where either certain roles are mandatory reporters (teachers, coaches, therapists, etc), or one (I think Utah might be this way) where everyone is a mandatory reporter if they hear about abuse?

I'm wondering if it would help things for you to also contact the kids' T with their disclosures about your sis.

Maybe your legal team could tell you if you reaching out to the kids' T would be a helpful additional move.
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« Reply #13 on: January 17, 2022, 02:43:04 AM »

One of my pet peeves about the judicial system is that everyone seems to sit around ruminating* while Rome burns.  Maybe not that bad, but when I dealt with family court it was glacially slow getting things right.  It took me 8 years to go from alternate weekend dad to full custody and majority time.

My lawyer described it to me this way, "Court makes gradual changes so as not to shock the child."  I retorted, "What if going so slow is what shocks the child?"

That my perspective if your court, once it gets the case, is inclined to make small changes.  Even if you don't get everything you want all at once, make sure there's a schedule for it all to ramp up.  (And figure out a way to reduce risk of your sister sabotaging that schedule.)

* ruminating - my Freshman English teacher loved that word.  "Jack went in his room and ate".
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GaGrl
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« Reply #14 on: January 17, 2022, 08:06:38 AM »

Another support could be the school counselors. Schools are very clear on mandatory reporting for my sister was an elementary PE teacher and had to report multiple times.
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I Am Redeemed
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« Reply #15 on: January 17, 2022, 09:04:55 AM »

IAR, it's a good plan to have the kids tell their T what's going on and you tell your T what's going on.

Are you in a "mandatory reporter" state where either certain roles are mandatory reporters (teachers, coaches, therapists, etc), or one (I think Utah might be this way) where everyone is a mandatory reporter if they hear about abuse?

I'm wondering if it would help things for you to also contact the kids' T with their disclosures about your sis.

Maybe your legal team could tell you if you reaching out to the kids' T would be a helpful additional move.

In my state, everyone who suspects child abuse is a mandatory reporter. It's also been covered in my grad school classes that social workers, medical professionals, mental health professionals, teachers, etc. are absolutely mandatory reporters.

My D14 has just been scheduled for trauma therapy. I believe her first appointment is this Wednesday. I had previously told her to reach out to the school counselor, before she was scheduled for trauma therapy, because of the stress she was under. The night all this was going on, she was texting me about my sister's raging at D13 and that's when I encouraged her and D13 to both tell their T. D14 said she had told the school counselor, but she had just called my sister and told my sister that D14 needed therapy and my sister had gotten mad. D14 said that she guessed that Sis just wanted to "look good" because she didn't know why she changed her mind about D14 going to therapy. Sis had told me she decided to go ahead and put D14 in therapy too because she found out that D14 was cutting herself, just like D13. D14 texted me that she had only done it once and that Sis "didn't do anything, in fact she laughed at me when she found out".

D13 had told her school counselor two years ago that she was cutting herself and it took until just last month for Sis to put her in trauma therapy. The reason was not the cutting, it was the discovery that D13 thinks she may be transgender or gender fluid.



My lawyer described it to me this way, "Court makes gradual changes so as not to shock the child."  I retorted, "What if going so slow is what shocks the child?"

That my perspective if your court, once it gets the case, is inclined to make small changes.  Even if you don't get everything you want all at once, make sure there's a schedule for it all to ramp up.  (And figure out a way to reduce risk of your sister sabotaging that schedule.)


My first meeting with my lawyer, he said that the court would make gradual changes, increasing time as a process, and that the plan is to have a detailed schedule for how that should happen that lays out specifically what my visitation will be ''mother will have the children on x days from a time to b time" because vague orders "mother will have children 8 hours a week" have, in the past, been ignored. I recall when the kids were still in state custody and I missed two whole weeks of visits because they went on vacation and then I missed at least one visit a week after that because she scheduled their swim lessons at the exact time of the visitation. Nothing was ever done about it.

One possible thing that could happen that may be very favorable is a change of venue to the county we all now live in. The family court judge in our home county is much more invested in families' and children's best interests. She used to be a family attorney. The judge in the county where this case originated was and still is a disability attorney (small town).

Another support could be the school counselors. Schools are very clear on mandatory reporting for my sister was an elementary PE teacher and had to report multiple times.
From what I understand, both girls have already tried the school counselor, who simply called my sister and recommended trauma therapy. I think their best bet is to tell their new trauma therapist who works for the Child Advocacy center which is literally the local child abuse prevention center.
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kells76
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« Reply #16 on: January 26, 2022, 09:44:24 AM »

IAR, any updates on how things are going?
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I Am Redeemed
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« Reply #17 on: January 26, 2022, 09:28:59 PM »

Not yet. My T said that the best thing was to encourage them to talk to their T. I don't know if they did, yet.

Going to check in with both daughters this weekend. Meanwhile, I have to talk to S6's principal about his recent ADHD diagnosis and try to get him in for a medication assessment. S6 is spending his days in ISS instead of in his kindergarten class. The school thought he was low IQ or learning disabled because of his behavior. The Aimsweb test proved he's actually high in proficiency. His aftercare teacher has been a real asset to me in advocating for him. I have to get something sorted out because he is just being too disruptive due to constant hyperactivity.
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