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Advice for child/custody visit?

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 Kanashii (original poster member #80132) posted at 1:24 PM on Thursday, June 23rd, 2022

Hey all. I'm having to facilitate a visit with my WH so that our 4 year old child can see him for the first time in 2+ weeks. I have primary custody of my son, and WH (probably STBX) only gets to see him if I supervise the visit. What I'm looking for is advice to make the visit easier on me as I have to deal with my own conflicted baggage (his continued affair/refusal to acknowledge the damage that's been done) and not let it ruin the time for my child. Also, my WH likes to play the "we can still be friends" card while doing the absolute opposite of what friends do (continued lies, gaslighting, blame shifting, shutting me down, etc).

Since it looks like me doing supervised visits is going to be my thing I have to do for the next several years, what suggestions or advice does the community have for me to make this bearable in the long and short term? Any suggestions for how to talk to my 4 year old on reasons why his dad isn't coming home or why he doesn't get to go with dad would be great too.

It sucks being the BW and only responsible parent.

Me - BW Mid 30'sHim - XWH Mid 30's

D-day1: Christmas Night 2021 D-day2:6/5/22

Filed for divorce 6/6/23. Divorce final 9/5/23

posts: 87   ·   registered: Mar. 23rd, 2022   ·   location: United States
id 8741531

morningglory ( member #80236) posted at 2:23 PM on Thursday, June 23rd, 2022

I recommend stating that your attorney has advised you to avoid personal conversation, and to remind him that he's there to interact with his son.

The attorney line will allow you to more easily stonewall him when he tries to converse. Just keep repeating it as necessary, and do not get drawn into any conversations. "Remember, you're here for Billy. I'm not supposed to have personal conversations not directly about Billy."

Repeat that line to yourself before every visit, too. Do not let yourself get drawn into any conversations, even those he prompts by saying, "Slut and I are getting engaged" or "Slut meets my needs so well, we're so happy." If he starts actually harassing you with direct insults, you should consult your attorney, but for generally triggering remarks that aren't directly abusive, just don't respond, and he'll engage with you less and less.

Small children should be told that mommy and daddy are going to live in separate houses from now on, but they both still love him. If he asks why, say, "Sometimes parents have to live separately, but you'll always live with me and we both will always love you." Don't promise him that his dad will always come to see him, because his dad might well quit visiting eventually.

When your child is old enough to understand & if he asks then, you can tell him that his father's adultery broke up the marriage, but don't rub it in or editorialize. Just state the most basic fact needed for him to have clarity.

[This message edited by morningglory at 2:38 PM, Thursday, June 23rd]

posts: 454   ·   registered: Apr. 15th, 2022
id 8741534

sisoon ( Moderator #31240) posted at 3:46 PM on Thursday, June 23rd, 2022

I would ask your lawyer for help. I would not lie about what the lawyer told you.

I recommend adopting the Simplified 180 to your purposes:

Can you get a social worker involved? An objective 3rd party is likely to have more effect than you will.

I'm sorry you're dealing with this - it's definitely a difficult sitch.

fBH (me) - on d-day: 66, Married 43, together 45, same sex ap
DDay - 12/22/2010
Recover'd and R'ed
You don't have to like your boundaries. You just have to set and enforce them.

posts: 29941   ·   registered: Feb. 18th, 2011   ·   location: Illinois
id 8741540

morningglory ( member #80236) posted at 4:13 PM on Thursday, June 23rd, 2022

I would not lie about what the lawyer told you.

Attorney client privilege. It's none of ex's business what OP's lawyer actually told her, as that is completely private and protected by law, and OP has no reason not to tell a white lie to an ex who cheated on her. That doesn't harm the ex, it just makes it easier to maintain the boundaries, because some ex's are entitled and pushy and not easily deterred. The attorney line is an effective way to cut them off, because they can't effectively argue against your following the advice of your attorney. I've shared custody with a very difficult ex for over 10 years, so I have a lot of experience and knowledge of shared custody. Attorneys often do advise clients to avoid conversations with the ex.

Sisoon, keep in mind that you've never been divorced and have no experience with the custody process.

[This message edited by morningglory at 4:40 PM, Thursday, June 23rd]

posts: 454   ·   registered: Apr. 15th, 2022
id 8741545

ChamomileTea ( Moderator #53574) posted at 6:20 PM on Thursday, June 23rd, 2022

I'm just curious as to why it has to be you. Why not an officer of the court or a family member? Where is this visit taking place?

At any rate, I think I would choose a public venue like a park and bring some toys, like a T-ball set-up or croquet set. If it's raining, maybe indoor playground, or duck pin, or something easy like that. You might even ask a relative to host the visit. Bring a book or some work you need to finish so you have an excuse to leave them to their activity. This is NOT "family time". Family time went out the window when he made the choice to cheat. This is his time to visit his son and if he can't focus on that, he can leave. Don't be afraid to be crystal clear with your expectations.

I would not bring him into my home and would cite confusion to the child if he asked. He'll be too comfortable there and more entitled. If you do have to have him in, set up in a den or living area so that activities, snacks, and toilet are readily available and he's got no reason to wander the house. Set up a nanny cam or some other recording device, even if you have to announce that it's there in order to keep it legal. Maybe have a friend over as well for moral support. If he get distracted by needing to find some particular item or wanting to talk, remind him he's there to see his son and that you'll pack up whatever he needs later. If he's insistent, draw the meeting to a close and ask him to leave. If he's still insistent, call 911 and have police escort him out.

I'm sorry you're having to deal with this. I suspect that because of the "let's be friends" dynamic, your WH will do his best to make you uncomfortable and force you to interact. Just remember that YOU are in charge. YOU are the supervisor in this particular endeavor and if he wants to be there, he's going to need to do it on YOUR terms. It's not your fault that he got put on supervised visitation. He did that to himself, and your child shouldn't have to pay for it. So, he can either be there in the capacity of being a dad, or he can shove off. You're not at any obligation to be involved past the point of making sure he's not damaging your son. Don't be a buffer. It's not your function to facilitate his relationship with his kid. He needs to pull on his big boy pants and act like an adult for a change.

BW: 2004(online EAs), 2014 (multiple PAs)
Married 40 years; in R with fWH for 8

posts: 7049   ·   registered: Jun. 8th, 2016   ·   location: U.S.
id 8741557

TheWorldYouWant ( member #78447) posted at 6:49 PM on Thursday, June 23rd, 2022

Yeah I'm an attorney and I regularly tell my family law clients "do not talk to your ex about anything other than your child's needs or other child-related updates." It doesn't benefit anyone for exes in a volatile situation to have conversations beyond that. I'm not your attorney but I totally endorse this white lie! Also, you could just reach out to your attorney and say "I bet you don't want me talking to my ex about anything other than our kid, right?" and get their agreement on that. And then just do it.

About supervised visitation: In California at least, courts don't offer this service. (I have no knowledge how it works in other states as I do not practice in other states.) Here it's something that you either pay for through an agency, or you have to get a family member or friend to do it, and it's a pretty big burden for them as it involves communicating and interacting with someone they don't like (the ex) as well as a good chunk of their own time. Most parents who have been ordered to only have supervised visitation will FIGHT if they have to pay for an agency to do it, and those agencies usually only offer services during regular business hours--not nights or weekends. Supervised visitation pretty much sucks for everyone involved, although it's very necessary in many cases.

posts: 105   ·   registered: Mar. 5th, 2021
id 8741559

 Kanashii (original poster member #80132) posted at 12:39 AM on Friday, June 24th, 2022

I guess it will come to no surprise for many, but WH had to "back out" of the planned visitation time for today and we were not able to go see him. My son was not told about the possible visit because I didn't want to say anything until we were actually on the way there/knew he would be able to see WH.

ChamomileTea: It has to be me as there is no one else who could do it, and we're still waiting on the courts for anything further. We have been only separated a month, but I have temporary full custody due to WH's recent actions/mental health issues. My close family friends who could supervise are away on vacation now but they may be an option for future possible visits.

morningglory & TheWorldYouWant: I'll probably have to use the "my attorney says" piece when visitation takes place. WH keeps trying to draw me in again with his health issues, but he doesn't actually want real feedback (or help) from me. Thank you for words I can say to my son. He's having a hard time adjusting and keeps saying he misses his family.

I guess a future thing would be what to do for my son when my WH keeps dissapointing him by not showing up? For now, not telling him there is a visit planned helps but I don't see that working forever.

Me - BW Mid 30'sHim - XWH Mid 30's

D-day1: Christmas Night 2021 D-day2:6/5/22

Filed for divorce 6/6/23. Divorce final 9/5/23

posts: 87   ·   registered: Mar. 23rd, 2022   ·   location: United States
id 8741591

gmc94 ( member #62810) posted at 1:08 AM on Friday, June 24th, 2022

I second the idea to have someone else participate in the supervision. Every state is different, so it may -or may not- be a big PITA to be "approved" for purposes of supervised visitation. If it's doable to be approved (your atty should know), I would really consider adding someone (or three)to the list.

As to how to deal with a youngster whose parent isn't showing up, it's always a tough one. I think the important thing is to make sure the kid has space to have & express whatever feelings they may have about it, and for the parent to do their best to be the "container" for the child's expression of those feelings vs trying to "fix" things or distract, or say it's not so bad, etc. (obv w/in limits - IOW, I understand you are angry, but it is NOT ok to bite me! ). It sucks when others don't show up for us, and it REALLY sucks when it's a parent. I think most folks (even younguns) want their feelings heard/validated and want to know and be reassured it's not their fault, and someone else not showing up for them has NOTHING to do with being worthy of love.

FWIW, There are parts in Brene Brown's the Power of Vulnerability (an audio of about 6 or 8 of her talks, I can only find it on Hoopla via my local library, but HIGHLY recommend it) that talk about parenting and I found it all soooo inspiring (and sad I'd not been able to use some of those tools when my own were young).

Hang in there - supervised visitation is a bumpy road to have to travel. Going gray rock or 180 is your best bet for the times you have to do it.

M >25yrs/grown kids
DD1 1994 ONS prostitute
DD2 2018 exGF1 10+yrEA & 10yrPA... + exGF2 EA forever & "made out" 2017
9/18 WH hung himself- died but revived

It's rude to say "I love you" with a mouthful of lies

posts: 3828   ·   registered: Feb. 22nd, 2018
id 8741594
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