My daughter's father was granted earlier this year two 2 weeks summer, 1 week winter, and spring break visits in addition to the regular schedule. She just turned 10 yrs old. To give a brief history, ever since her father remarried a few years ago, my daughter has been witness to several heated arguments between her dad and stepmom, with pushing, screaming, hitting, and throwing objects. When it first became an issue a few years ago, I tried to address it with him but he told me it was none of my business (not that kindly). My daughter later said that she got in trouble with him because she had told me about what transpired when he told her not to tell me anything. She asked me not to mention anything to him again because her visits were made even more miserable if I ever said anything to him. I agreed, but now I have learned that was a huge mistake on my part. Since this extra visitation time was granted, her exposure to these fights have increased and her stepmom has now resorted to including my daughter in the arguments by yelling and making derogatory statements to her. During her first 2-week summer visit with her dad, yet another argument took place with the police being called for Domestic Violence. He was not arrested, however, and allowed to leave the residence with our daughter. They both stayed the remainder of the week at his mother's. The second 2-week summer visit was okay because he still had not returned to his wife's house and instead stayed with our daughter at his mother's house. He was back, however, by the winter week visit which sadly began with yet another argument which included her stepmom hitting her dad, screaming at my daughter followed by giving her the middle finger. As a result, her dad sent our daughter to stay with relatives the rest of the week only to pick her up when it was time to drop her off back with me. My daughter said she cannot take their fighting anymore and does not want to go for the longer visits anymore. I petitioned the court to change the visitation back the way it was, and we were sent to mediation in which her father denied ALL of our daughter's claims and said she was only saying those things for attention and that I was lying because I was just angry with him. To my surprise, the mediator sided with her father saying that if it was such an important issue then I would have said something about it sooner and the fact that I would believe a 10-year-old's account over an adult was ridiculous. I had proof that he had already been arrested once for domestic violence for allegedly burning his wife with a clothes iron, but the mediator did not want to hear any of it because it was not recent enough. I had tried to get a copy of the incident report from the police for the one police-involved event that my daughter was witness to but was told that because it did in fact contain domestic violence, I could not receive it, only the victim and parties involved were allowed to have it. Because of that, the mediator didn't want to hear about that either. Now we have court tomorrow to talk to the Judge who will have the mediator's recommendation to not change the current schedule. I know that it's more likely than not that the Judge will agree with the mediator. I guess my question is what can I do from here on out to help my daughter? If they won't take my daughter's accounts into consideration and they won't consider his past arrest history and I can't get copies of incident reports when police are called to their home, what else can I do?
State/Country relating to question: California
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See if the judge will allow your daughter to testify, get a subpoena to force the grandparents and other relatives to testify that your daughter had to stay with them due to the fights in the house, or see if the judge will allow you to have a counselor speak with your daughter and allow the counselor to give their advice to the judge to contradict the mediator.
Practicing attorney for 10 years
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