UPDATED: The things you do have consequences. Your past can come back to bite you in a variety of ways. But how do your choices play into child custody disputes, especially when you’ve taken steps to correct earlier mistakes?
Our managing attorney, Colin Amos, has made appearances on the radio to address family law questions from listeners. One recent caller, a Portland-area father, has a checkered past with alcohol abuse, though he’s been clean now for a number of years. Still, his ex continually uses his previous issues to threaten his custody situation.
Can she do that? Will she be successful? What can he do to protect his claims to custody and visitation?
Check Out the Conversation Below:
Caller: “I have a seven-year-old son with my ex-girlfriend. We have been separated for the last six months. I have him every other weekend and times during the week. She consistently jerks me around and changes the times. She says that if I mess with her she will use the fact that I am an alcoholic against me and I will only get supervised visitation. I have been clean for two years. Is this true?”
Colin: “This we hear a lot because there is a lot of manipulation and coercion that goes on in child custody disputes. It is especially prevalent against guys who are often very nervous because they feel that the deck is stacked against them. Or, they feel that if they go into court they are going to lose their rights. However, this is not the way that it works.
“This is a perfect example of where you just need to use a little logic. She has been giving you the child every other weekend and she has been doing this for the last two years. Now, all of a sudden, because you go to court, you are a danger around the child? The argument doesn’t make sense and the court is not going to listen to it.
“Family Court is there to support both a father’s right and a mother’s right to have a relationship with the child. People will make mistakes. It is not just about making the mistake. What you do thereafter is important to the court. He has been clean for two years and he is going to be fine.
“He needs to file a petition to take that control away from her. It will help him create an objective good parenting relationship with his child and keep her from continuing to jerk him around.”
Related Reading: Can Your Ex Stop Your Kids from Playing Sports?