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  1. #1
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    Sep 2012
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    Default Modifying Custody from Joint Legal to Sole Legal

    My question involves a child custody case from the State of: IL

    Hi. I am new to post but a long time lurker. My ex and I split in early 2010 and he filed for visitation over that summer. We went to mediation that fall. In mediation we agreed on most issues, including us having joint legal custody. Nothing is said about physical custody, but the child, B (3 years), is primarily with me while my ex has the typical EOW and one night a week visitation. We went to court in early 2011 and everything was laid out and put into our papers. Everything had been going okay until early this year.

    For a little background, my ex and I got along great right after the split for a few weeks until he got involved with someone. She immediately took control of everything involving B. She did not like me from the beginning and was very insecure with me being in my ex's life. There were a lot of arguments and petty problems between the 3 of us but for the most part we were able to work it out for the sake of the child. This year, however, things took a turn for the worst and both my ex and his girlfriend have been rude, controlling, and spiteful. I've spent my time in the early stages of learning how to co-parent being dumb, immature and rude, and now all I want is the best for B. Over the summer I've allowed my ex to treat me badly and walk all over me in hopes that they'll have their fun and move on.

    Things got real bad at the end of summer when I asked (for the first time) to switch weekends with my ex because my family was having a get together out of town. I figured it wouldn't be a big deal since I had done it twice when my ex asked, along with a list of other things. My ex decided to take advantage of that opportunity and demand extra days in order for me to have the weekend I was asking for. I decided it was time to put an end to them walking all over me. Around that time they started texting me horrible and mean things, stuff about the way I look, how I dress, calling me names, etc. For the most part, I let all that go.

    My ex and I live a 45 minute drive apart, 2 different towns. In our court papers it states I am to have B in town (town in general, no certain location as my ex refuses to let me drop B off at his house, so no specific location was decided upon) for my ex to pick up, and he is to drop B off at my residence. There have been several instances where I am in town and have met up with my ex for his drop offs before going home. Recently my ex has been telling me I need to text him an hour ahead of time to let him know where B will be for pick up. It's really a simple thing, I understand that, but I refuse to do it because of his attitude toward me. I am hoping that by putting my foot down he will start to understand that a better attitude gets him farther. His reason for wanting me to give him this hour notice is because he wants to avoid every little bit of communication between us. He's told me this several times. We hardly talk in person, the only communication we have is a few words here and there in text and it's always about the child, unless they're texting belittling things to me. They don't seem to have a problem with that sort of communication. I have told him a couple times that I will not give him an hour notice and I have also told him why. Every day of visitation since he has text me 30-45 min prior angry because I didn't give him the notice.

    During our exchange on a Friday a few weeks back, he attempted to ask in person why I won't give him the notice. He, again, told me he doesn't want to talk to me and demanded I give him notice from then on. He started to argue so I got in my car and left. The following Sunday, he brought B home with a shaved head in the form of a mohawk. Now, my ex knows how much I loved B's hair. In May they shaved it because B had gotten lice from day care. I was fine with it then and was looking forward to his hair growing back. I had always been in charge of hair cuts, always in the same normal little boy style. Never was it an issue. When my ex brought B back that Sunday night with a mohawk, I asked him why he did it and he responded with "because I can". That tells me they did it to hurt me, not because B (who, I remind you, is only 3 years old) asked for it.

    I had it shaved off the next day. I got a hold of my lawyer a week later and got some advice from her. There is nothing specific in our papers about joint legal, just talks about agreeing on the major things: education, religion and healthcare. She told me to send an email to my ex and let him know that I disagree with our child having a mohawk and that such things should be discussed in the future. It has been several weeks since I sent the email and I have not received a response. I did remind him about it in person a week after I sent it.

    Earlier this week, during our exchange, my ex wanted to have yet another "conversation", basically about this notice that I still refuse to give him. In this argument he said because he meets me in town for his drop offs instead of him driving 45 minutes to my house (where this really benefits him because he struggles with money for gas) and he follows the court papers, then I should do anything he asks for outside of the court papers. He said since I won't give him this notice then he's going to keep giving B mohawks. I told him if he wants to give B a haircut, fine, but he needs to discuss with me before giving him a drastic cut, like a mohawk or shaving his head. He said I need to ask him about every haircut from now on. I told him I will let him know about any future haircuts. He immediately said he won't agree to any of it, and then says since he doesn't agree, then I won't be able to cut B's hair or do much of anything else that we have to jointly discuss. Basically, this has nothing to do with the child's hair at this point, but everything to do with aggravating me. He also told me he absolutely despises me, wants nothing to do with me, and would be just fine if he never spoke to me for the rest of his life. I reminded him, as I have several times, that we have a child together and we have the next at least 15 years to talk and parent this child. He doesn't think we need to talk, period. The conversation ended with an empty threat on his end about nonexistent stipulations in the court papers.

    I have done a lot of reading up on this issue and it seems that getting sole legal custody after having joint custody is not an easy task. I don't plan on taking this on any time soon, but I feel like if things continue down this path, something will need to be done. I don't think it's right that my ex will disagree with anything and everything with the sole intention of hurting me. Now this isn't just about haircuts, but any decision. I have been documenting as much as possible, including texts. Unfortunately, I won't be able to prove anything that was said in our arguments in person, although I do believe the things he told me would help sway a judge.

    Questions:
    1) As the parent with primary residence, do I have any ending say in some things, for example, haircuts? Like if I wanted to take B for a normal cut, told my ex, he disagreed, do I have the right to take him anyway? I think it's dangerous territory regardless because if I do something my ex doesn't agree with, then he'll turn around and do something to K to "get back at me".
    2) If this continues or gets worse and I keep documenting, what are my chances of getting sole legal? Now keep in mind, I in no way want to hurt the relationship between B and my ex. The visitations will stay the same and I will, as I always have, continue to support their relationship. I just want to minimize arguments and difficulties in raising our child.
    3) I might end up taking my ex back to court over contempt for not paying child support (just a lump sum he owes me since what he pays monthly is garnished from his checks). If I do that, can I petition for change in legal custody then, or does that have to be a completely separate thing?

    I'm sorry this is so long as I'm not sure what you find important. Feel free to ask questions. And thank you for any responses.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Joint Legal to Sole Legal

    First I'll touch on you refusing to give Dad notice - you're playing with fire. I understand why you're thinking the way you are, but that's going to backfire on you. That's not co-parenting, at all and trying to "teach him a lesson" (so to speak) is only going to antagonize the situation. Don't do that.

    1) You both have the right to cut the child's hair. This is not the hill upon which you want to die. Frankly you had no reason to cut the mohawk - what makes your preference supersede Dad's preference?

    2) Nothing you've said here would justify a change from joint legal to sole legal.

    3) Child support and custody are two different things. You can request the custody matter is heard but since you have no reason to file to change custody it's likely moot anyway.

  3. #3
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    Sep 2012
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    Default Re: Joint Legal to Sole Legal

    All right, so not arguing, just genuine curiosity. Basically him refusing to give me anything outside the court papers is okay, but it's not okay for me do the same? What else could I do to try and earn some respect as the child's mother seeing as how letting him walk all over me did nothing? And in what way could that backfire? Like, if we ended up back in court?

    1) I understand haircuts. If he wants to cut B's hair, fine, I told him I'm okay with it. But mohawks, in my opinion, are a bigger issue than haircuts in general. Regardless, my biggest problem was the fact that it was done out of retaliation. And, forget the haircuts, what about other issues? Say I want to take the child out of the state for the weekend. According to our mediation papers, I am supposed to let my ex know and give him any and all information. Say I do all that, but my ex disagrees with me taking him out of the state. Would I be able to do that? Or because my ex says no, does that mean I can't? Or, another example, an extracurricular activity. Say my ex disagrees with it, even though it doesn't interfere with him or his visitation. Could I still do it?

    2) Do I have to continue the next 15 years fighting my ex disagreeing with me on everything solely to aggravate me? Would it likely get dismissed before going to a judge, or would the judge possibly give my ex a "slap on the wrist" sort of thing? I know each state, county, court and judge are different.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Oh and my lawyer also mentioned my ex and I going back to mediation. I doubt my ex would agree to that. My lawyer said a judge might have it ordered. Is there a way I can do that if my ex refuses mediation? Or do we have to go back to court to have a judge order it?

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Joint Legal to Sole Legal

    Oh wow. So sorry, OP, but as I was reading this, that's the only thing I could think.

    I'm not sure what issues you are having that you think are unacceptable, but you haven't told any here. Dad asking for some kind of notice in advance as to where you are so he knows where to go is completely reasonable, and refusing to do so will only make you look like you are the unreasonable one.

    Of course, no one wants to be a doormat (although I'm missing exactly how that's the casd, but I'm assuming its what you haven't told us. But the things to put your foot down about are the things that he is being unreasonable about, not the things that are reasonable. If he is making mean comments, don't give him an audience to let him i know that they affect you. Sometimes silence can indeed be golden. And you don't have to deal at all with his new girl.

    If you want sole legal, you need to show how that would benefit the child. You need to show how dad having a say is detrimental to the child. It can't just be that you don't get along with dad or that you don't like what he thinks. And even if you had sole legal, most people's interpretation of that would not include you having exclusive rights to hair cuts, meaning dad could still cut his hair if he wants to.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Joint Legal to Sole Legal

    You can't demand that he respects you. It sucks, but that's the reality. Trying to force him is just going to push him away even further. Yes, it can backfire if you end up in court and the judge feels like you both need to be micro-managed - and the last thing you want to do is piss off the judge on your case.

    So, haircuts. We've moved past those, which is good. The court won't see a difference between trimming an inch, and giving kiddo a blue mohawk.

    You say it was done out of retaliation - but why is Dad trying to retaliate? Because you've tried to assert your dominance (in his eyes, anyway)? That's the key here. With regards to taking kiddo out of state, what exactly do your current orders say about it? Same question wrt extracurriculars.

    In all honesty, at this point, the judge would likely slam both of you and tell you both to get a grip with co-parenting. Is that unfair? Yes, it might well be if it's truly one-sided.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Joint Legal to Sole Legal

    Quote Quoting FatherWhoWon
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    I'm not sure what issues you are having that you think are unacceptable, but you haven't told any here. Dad asking for some kind of notice in advance as to where you are so he knows where to go is completely reasonable, and refusing to do so will only make you look like you are the unreasonable one.
    Yeah, I know it makes sense, it's simple and it's something I would totally do if he cared at all about getting along for the sake of the child. So, basically, I would be the unreasonable one for refusing to give this notice, when all he has to do is ask? I've told him several times just to ask me and I'll let him know, that way he can pick up B on time. But he refuses to do that and waits until almost last minute to ask and throws a fit because I didn't give him notice.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Joint Legal to Sole Legal

    As far as traveling out of state, unless your order says you need his permission, you don't need it. If it does say you need his permission, I would look into asking a judge to remove that condition. Unless there are extenuating circumstances, that probably won't be an issue.

    If you want to put your child in an extracurricular activity that doesn't interfere with dad's time, go for it.

    You can ask the judge to order mediation if you want to, but if dad doesn't want to mediate, it may not be helpful anyway.





    And I think you're being extremely petty about this notice thing. Why are (both of) you making such a big deal about something that really shouldn't be?

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Joint Legal to Sole Legal

    Quote Quoting Dogmatique
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    You can't demand that he respects you. It sucks, but that's the reality. Trying to force him is just going to push him away even further. Yes, it can backfire if you end up in court and the judge feels like you both need to be micro-managed - and the last thing you want to do is piss off the judge on your case.

    So, haircuts. We've moved past those, which is good. The court won't see a difference between trimming an inch, and giving kiddo a blue mohawk.

    You say it was done out of retaliation - but why is Dad trying to retaliate? Because you've tried to assert your dominance (in his eyes, anyway)? That's the key here. With regards to taking kiddo out of state, what exactly do your current orders say about it? Same question wrt extracurriculars.

    In all honesty, at this point, the judge would likely slam both of you and tell you both to get a grip with co-parenting. Is that unfair? Yes, it might well be if it's truly one-sided.
    I can understand that. The only issue right now for me is the one hour notice, because he always seems to want to follow the court papers, except when it inconveniences him, then he can make up his own rules. And then obviously, I just want to try and protect the future.

    With the retaliation, I haven't really shown any dominance, beyond refusing the hour notice. Like I mentioned, we had a lot of issues when my ex got with his girlfriend. They have chosen not to let the past go and use it as an excuse to act the way they do. I was not perfect in the past as I had a lot to learn and a lot of growing up to do. And I still have some of those issues, but I am doing what I can to start over.

    The mediation papers, now that I look at them, don't mention anything about out of state. It talks about taking vacations and notifications pf vacations and states "The notification must include dates and times of travel, destinations, locations, and flight information where applicable." And extracurriculars: "Both parents will be allowed to participate, and attend, any extra-curricular activities that the children participate in. Both parents will be responsible for informing, and providing copies of schedules, rule and requirements, of such activities." Do those mean that I don't really need his consent to take the child out of state or put him in any activities? I mean, obviously, I would still discuss it with him, but if he disagrees, can I still do it?

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Joint Legal to Sole Legal

    If it doesn't say you need his consent, then you don't. Its still nice to provide the information that is mentioned in case of emergency and so the other parent can attend things like soccer games and such. Honestly, I personally like the way your order is written. It still gives you the freedom to do what you want witb your child on your time, but makes sure that the other parent can be involved if they want to.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Joint Legal to Sole Legal

    Both our mediation and court papers are pretty basic. They are nice and would be perfect if my ex and I could actually get along.

    Everything any more is a big issue with him. Because he's mad at me about something that happened 2 years ago, he can't agree to anything. His belittling texts to me are childish and annoying. But if that makes him happy, then more power to him because I know, at the end, the jokes on him. But he knows that the only way to really get to me is through our child. And he takes that seriously. Yes, the haircuts are minor. But he purposely brings B home late during his week visitation, after 9pm, when B has to get up early for day care/preschool the next day, to upset me. B has asthma, my ex's girlfriend smokes and spent the first 1.5 years sending B home reeking of cigarettes and because of that B spent the night having coughing fits. She still smokes, but thankfully, B doesn't come home smelling like smoke much at all. B doesn't like getting his hair cut. The past few times I'd taken him, he hasn't dealt with it well. And when I had his mohawk shaved off, he spent the whole 2 minutes it took asking me if he was done and getting upset over the little hairs falling on his shoulders. So I hate to think that my ex is shaving B's hair and B is struggling the whole time.

    So I guess what upsets me the most is how this affects the child and the fact that I have no recourse. As it is now, B doesn't like going to Dad's house. It's nothing I've done or enforced, promise. I think it's just a different environment over there with very little rules and structure, and, honestly, a lot of kids. So I hate to think that B's dislike towards Dad could continue or get worse.

    Thanks for the responses though!

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