Blended Families

Putting Children First

I know I'm mostly a lurker and once in a while chime in with my 2 cents but I have a question.  It is pretty subjective so if it stirs up some drama, I apologize, but I am seriously interested in opinions on this subject.

Say a parent does something really wrong:  harms a child, abandons a child for a period of years, is involved in some serious neglect of a child, etc resulting in them not being around their child for quite some time; and then a few years down the line wishes to become part of that child's life again.  Say that while the parent was still in the child's life, the child was scared of that parent but as most children do, kept their feelings to themselves out of fear; so the parent never realized the child's true feelings.  If that child has been through extensive counseling or some other professional help, at what point do you feel the child's wishes on the subject should be considered and to what extent. 

Is there an age you feel is appropriate for them to speak on their own behalf in court; should they not speak in court because it is damaging to them; should they get a say in whether they have to begin spending time with the parent they are afraid of again, should it just be forced by the courts regardless of the child's wishes?  

I appreciate all your thoughts.  Seems that my husband's estranged ex-girlfriend who has not been part of my SS's life for nearly 5 years now, is talking to people about wanting to start seeing him again.  He is terrified of her to the point of being almost physically ill whenever he talks about the abuse he suffered when he still lived with her.  The ex called DH's brother and spent 20 minutes going on and on about how the child is only afraid of her because DH has convinced him he should be, which is clearly not the case. SS has been in long term counseling and has expressed his fear of her since day one with the counselor.  SS is pre-teen, so I feel he should be allowed to voice his opinion if this should ever become a serious request on her part and end up in court, but I would like to know what other people think about this.  TIA. 

Re: Putting Children First

  • I think that as long as he is in counseling and I would get his counselors advice on this.  I'm sorry I'm not much help.  Good luck to you.

  • Wait... let me get this straight... this person who might have abused SS isn't even a relative, but an ex-girlfriend?  If I'm understanding you correctly, I would not have him see her at all...

    But I agree on the counseling bit per pp above...

    If I'm wrong with what you're saying, please explain... Thanks!

  • It sounds like the ex-girlfriend is the BM.  Is that right?

    If it were my kid, I would get opinions from the counselor.  My gut tells me that I would want to wait until the child is 18 so that he can decide for himself but a counselor may have a different opinion.

    How did things end?  Did she lose custody or did she just disappear?  Is there a CO in place?

    I am so sorry this is happening to your SS. 

  • I think in a case like this, as long as they understand what is going on, that they are under proper supervision (ie counselor) and get to speak in private with the judge, that they should be able to speak for themselves as young as 7 or 8. A lot of it has to do with the maturity of the child involved.


  • I believe in most states (can't find the information to back it up right now) it is a child's legal right right once thery turn 12-14, depending on the state, to dtermine who is legally involved in their life. I know thi applies to them being able to decide who they want to live with, but not quite sure how it ties in to everything else.

    However, most judges (and it is typically done at the judges discretion) will admit the testimony of and at least take into account the wishes of the child.

  • image paris.inthe.spring:
    I think in a case like this, as long as they understand what is going on, that they are under proper supervision (ie counselor) and get to speak in private with the judge, that they should be able to speak for themselves as young as 7 or 8. A lot of it has to do with the maturity of the child involved.


    ditto

  • FloF9FloF9 member

    Ditto on what Paris said. 

  • Ask for the court to appont SS a legal guardian.  This is how SS can "voice" his opinion in the matter -- the legal guardian then acts on behalf of SS for legal matters.  The legal guardian will also speak to the counselor, the school, etc.
  • Sorry, I was out of town for work. 

    Thanks for the advice.  If it comes to that, I will check into him speaking to the judge or getting a guardian.   

  • I think it depends on a number of things. If the child was at an age say 4 or 5 and has memories of things happening to him and he is now a preteen then I would think that child has every right to say what they want or don't want. I think that if there was abuse that the parent that commited that abuse shouldn't be able to see that child unless it is supervised. I think there are other reasons they should be supervised visits as well.

    My question is is there a court order?

    I have a similar situation but it is my nephew. My BIL and nephew moved in with us when he was two. Mom is a meth addict. Mom couldn't even bother to show for the court hearings and my brother has full custody. Mom lost all her rights. BIL told her if she wants to see Nephew she would have to go through supervised visits and she would need to pay for them. Needless to say he hasn't seen his mom in almost 2 years and hasn't talked to her in about 6+ months because she is in jail again. Oh and she is getting ready to give birth to a brother he will probably never know.

    Proud Step Mom to Zachary 10-26-98
    Loving Wife to Billy 04-28-07
    Proud mom to Jeremy 08-15-08

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  • you want a gaurdian ad litem.......... the court can appoint one. thats the best way to go and definitly keep with the counseling
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