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.
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.