Update in case anyone is curious how an actual lawyer responded.
1. He absolutely saw through this scheme of a previously deadbeat or barely involved parent attempting to file for custody after being hit with a child support order. This is a small town with a high percentage of young women getting pregnant and males who don't take responsibility so he sees this situation/scheme occur A LOT.
2. However! He also knows Missouri law well and it is a 50/50 state. He explained regardless of whatever criminal activity he's done in the past, I would have to provide proof that he's still involved in that activity/substance abuse TODAY to qualify for any limited visitation. The state encourages the child to have as much contact with both parents as possible. He proposed we respond with a 50/50 joint legal custody, sole physical custody, every other weekend/holiday visitation, with his child support payment calculated at an even higher price due to the fact I will continue to keep the kids under my medical insurance through my job. He said that if the children truly cannot adjust and oppose to continuing with the established parenting plan, children starting at age 8 can have their opinions taken into consideration by a judge if it appears to be a valid one. For example, a child can't say "I wanna live with my mommy because all my favorite toys are there. or I wanna live with my daddy because he has no rules, etc." If he's truly neglectful and irresponsible and the child him or herself can articulate examples of that it will be taken seriously.
3. He also stated that unless I physically denied him visitation, as in refusing to answer the door when he shows up or taking the kids out of town to avoid him, his text messages of me saying for him to not come around anymore if he can't help financially are not going to hold up in court. Due to the fact that he himself has not attempted to contact me or visit the kids since July or provide any child support during this time will only make him look worse. He also mentioned that this is usually the excuse that the fathers will try to use to support their case and that a judge will see straight through this.
4. He also said there is a chance that the father will have to pay my attorney fees, as again, this county is "hip" to this custody scheme. If the father had evidence of me physically denying visitation as I stated above then he would not be paying any fees because he has the right to fight for visitation if currently not receiving any. In that case, there would even be a chance I would have to pay HIS fees.
* Yeah.... no. A court will not give much weight to an 8yo's opinion. Especially when one of the parents (that would be you) has so clearly shown their disdain.
* Did the lawyer also explain to you that until a court orders him to pay child support, he has no obligation to give you any money at all? Because he doesn't.
* Did the lawyer tell you that it is rather standard to include insurance in parenting orders? It is. The court could easily order both of you to cover the children. Which won't give you a bonus on CS.
* Don't expect Dad to be ordered to pay your legal fees - in whole or in part. It's rather an unusual occurrence, and nothing you've posted indicates that it would happen.
At the end of the day, a lot of us discover - to our horror - that we chose our child(ren)'s other parent poorly. But choose them we did, and we're stuck with that choice. So we suck it up, teach our kids how to keep themselves safe, and yes, send them off with a smile and wishes for an enjoyable time.
One, do you really think Iím dumb enough to let a lawyer or a judge feel any ďdisdainĒ I may hold towards this deadbeat? No. Iíve been as polite as a pageant queen. This is the Internet people I can vent candidly if I so choose to. Any mother in my position is going to feel frustrated whether or this is for the childís best interest or not.
Two, like I said and Iíve read this other places a childís wishes CAN hold weight depending on the maturity of the child and if they are able to articulate valid reasons why they donít want to visit a parent. Especially if itís related to abuse or neglect.
Three, why would a judge care whoís insurance theyíre under if I agree to keep them under mine. Iím the one taking them to the drs anyway plus itís not like he can afford to pay a medical bill and I wonít have my kids refused at a dr office because their irresponsible father doesnít pay. Iíd rather manage all that myself.
My kids are sharp they know when Iím being fake and Iím not going to lie to them. Build their hope all up and give them a false hero image of their dad so that he can shatter it in a few years and be back in prison. Iíve worked hard building a village of good people around them so that they feel loved and accepted. Theyíre strong, happy, well raised young men and have every right to feel anyway they feel towards their dad. Itís up to him to fix that not me. Hopefully he does and everything turns out all unicorns and rainbows.
Thanks all for your time!
If your children have been abused, you should have reported it to your state's child protection agency. If you were aware of abuse and failed to report it, you will have issues with the agency as well.
False reports will not go in your favor do don't even think about it in order to deny the father his rights..