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Dr. Michael
Dr. Michael, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 2177
Experience:  Licensed Ph.D. Clinical Health Psychology with 30 years of experience in private practive and as a clinical psychology university professor.
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I have been in a court proceeding for over a year. After leaving

Customer Question

I have been in a court proceeding for over a year. After leaving my ex back in March 09 we have had a court hearing finally in April. I was given custody of our daughter and we are waiting to have judge rule on my ex's visitation, child support and our financials. My question is since leaving my ex has seen my now 2 yr. old for only about 14 hrs over two day last July. then the judge allowed only 2 hr. visit each day over 3 days in April. Before April my ex had not called or tried to come see our daughter and since court he hasn't called anyone in regards XXXXX XXXXX or tried to make contact. He blames the restraining order I had on him and now a no contact order which is only between he and I and not at all in connection with her. Do you feel he will see her or want much contact with her? should I look to sever the parental connection?
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Dr. Michael replied 3 years ago.
Let me try to answer your questions.

First, many professionals feel that when children have quality relationships with two parents, this is typically better than having it with just one. So unless you are suspicious that the father will almost certainly do your child more harm than good over time if they develop a relationship, the prospect of good things coming from allowing contact would probably make taking the risk of allowing visitation worthwhile for your child. It will be important to separate your own feelings of distress and displeasure with the father from what may be good for your child.

Related to the above point is that in the "abstract", there is probably no harm is granting visitation. That is, if he exercises the visitation right and things go well with the relationship that develops, fine; but naturally, if the rights are not exercised, nothing of course, will develop in the way of a relationship; and you and your child would have the same status with the father irrespective of whether you disallowed visitation or did not----his behavior will make the relationship nonexistent, limited or of high quality. Of course, what you do not want to see happen is for this man to repeatedly jump in and out of this child's life, encouraging a strong attachment and then continually promising and not delivering on his promises thereafter. Anticipating time spent with an absent parent and then being disappointed time and time again is certainly not good for the child and if you allow visitation and start to see this happening, you should intervene aggressively to stop it (either through mediation or threatened/legal action against the father to change the status).

You are certainly wise enough to appreciate the fact that you really cannot determine in advance whether this man will follow through and take advantage of visitation rights and really step-up to be a good father---to the extent visitation allows. I think again, that most experts would suggest that unless the man has serious legal or antisocial behavior problems, drug addiction or other bad behavior you do not want a child exposed to, the child should be given some chance to form a relationship with both biological parents, and so, some visitation should be allowed. You note that he has shown virtually no interest in being with his child since the birth and therefore, the interest in visitation rights at this time seems to make no sense; technically, he has abandoned the child. Nonetheless, he may "step up" at this point and take on more responsibility to be a good father and this should perhaps be risked.

What you might want to do is tell the father that you want to meet together with a child or family psychologist or social worker to talk about visitation issues (agreements, rules, what should and should not happen with visitation) before you approve any visitation. Such a discussion can include an informal "contract", written up between the three of you regarding expectations and things he will and will not do e.g., have the child over while he is having a drinking party with his friends. Perhaps some initial visitations should be supervised until he proves himself. This activity can be very educational for the father, who may be naive about the time and energy being a proper father must take. Maybe he would agree to take a parenting class alone or with you. Just some examples here. So, he may well know very little about fathering. Such a session with a third party can tutor him indirectly, just a bit. But agreement will allow you to come back in the future and identify specific failures you informally agreed upon, if he fails to meet basic responsibilities. Though it is not a legal document, it can be shared with the court in the future if need be, as data on what was agreed upon, and what failed or did not fail.

Hope this information is helpful to you. If I have failed to answer your question adequately, please let me know.

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Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Yes, you touched on a few aspects that I couldn't fit in previously due to space.

This gentleman has two grown children whom lived in the state in which we lived before and he while claiming he wanted his children and the rest of his family a big part of his life has since moved away over 1100 miles from them. He in essence has chosen another woman and new state and area to live and he has no connections there or work or anything else. He has not once contributed anything in the way of this child of ours even thru mail an outfit, package of diapers, or gift card to buy supplies if he thought I might not use money appropriately.

Now the other issue is this man has had drug, alcohol, anger, temper, abuse, and various issues. We tried to set up therapeutic reintroduction and visits here with him but at last minute he weaseled out of them with my therapist and with the exchange club who would have supervised the visits. We have asked the courts to order therapeutic reintroduction, supervised visits for a time, drug/alcohol therapy, and anger/management. While we are currently waiting to hear what the judge to decide what all will be involved I have to take a proactive approach for my daughter's best interest and not be reactive when something happens that may with his history be too late. Does that make sense?

During the 3 2hr. visits in April my friend, my daughter's surrogate Aunt (so to speak) was asked to accompany, by the judge, these visits for my daughter's comfort and security. While at these visits she never once heard my ex tell my daughter he loves her and my daughter continuously resisted him picking her up or trying to show her any kind of attention. these visits were taped and shows her keeping her distance and actually reacting to another man who was there more with handing him things and sharing with him. My therapist has reviewed these visits on the DVD and is highly concerned that my ex shows no parental instincts at all and in fact did try to interact with her but simply he is a stranger and she doesn't know him from Adam.

You eluded to him popping in and out of her life which is what we feel has been shown already and will continue, along with his history of substance abuse and abusive behaviors it would only be the right thing to do to protect my daughter. My therapist feels strongly that only he will cause much mental, verbal, and emotional distress to my daughter because he lives 1000 miles away and will not jump thru the hoops to see her or have consistent, ongoing contact and his other issues. My therapist after dealing with me and somewhat seeing my ex thru his in action and correspondence thru attys.,etc. feels he suffers a personality disorder and that would take long term therapy on his part, a min. of 7 yrs to begin to get to the meat of the matters.

 

Do this give you more insight and help you in looking at this issue? Can you understand my dilema and why I battle so hard with this? In my heart of hearts I wish like crazy for them to have a relationship and it be productive and nurturing but yet all the evidence and advice tells me this might not be in the cards at least not best for my daughter and since she is 2this will effect her for the rest of her life in trust issues and attachment issues.

Expert:  Dr. Michael replied 3 years ago.
I'm glad you added this additional information; sheds a great deal of light on this matter, to be sure. You feel you have good evidence already to suggest that visitation would not be in the child's interests.

Personally, I would want to see a dramatic change in his behavior (e.g., paying child support regularly) before I'd consider wanting to grant visitation. So I hope you are successful in pressing for sole custody, no visitation for the father. You are obviously very bright and you can and should trust your intuition on this one.

Best regards XXXXX XXXXX You sound like you are a very good mother who puts her child first. Hope you can sensitize your internal "radar" to avoid guys like him in the future.

"PLEASE... Show respect for your expert. If the information shared with you has been helpful, confirm this by Accepting their answer and provide Feedback. Thank you!"
Dr. Michael, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 2177
Experience: Licensed Ph.D. Clinical Health Psychology with 30 years of experience in private practive and as a clinical psychology university professor.
Dr. Michael and other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Yes sir....I have been in therapy for over 1.5yrs. due to mostly this issue itself and the loss of my father. My attendance in therapy is twice a week by my own choosing as I feel I need this balance for awhile in the face of this adversity. This has been very difficult for me to accept what has happened and is happening and the reality of it and where the lapse of my radar/judgement occurred. I must say that upon meeting and getting involved with this man my father had just passed away after 2yrs of fighting for his life with cancer. Our meeting took place only about 1mos. after this happened and I was grieving, vulnerable, extremely depressed, and coping with the fact I had to decide to turn off the life support to my father.

Normally, I would not associate or have any kind of relations with someone like him as everyone who knows me is aware of the type of person I am and what type of caliber of character I expect and associate with.

While my lack of judgement is by no means an excuse but I have learned it is a factor and somewhat a reason for what could have caused me to look for a acceptance and my sense of neediness. I hate that about me because I am not easy on myself and have not come to allow myself mistakes at all. I am very hard and have high expectations. Simply put this is my second therapist that looking at this fella has come to realize and classify him as only in two words a psychopath and sociopath. While doesn't let me off the hook for my responsibilities it does lend to how hard and convincing his personality was and how I could have been fooled and drawn in. Now I truly struggle mostly with forgiving myself and trying to get back into the game of life and trusting anyone but also dealing with what I must where my daughter is concerned. I feel good that I have a pretty good handle on my daughter and that situation....now just doing it. Myself is still a difficult issue as I haven't dated or had any interest or allowed myself in the situation to be around men to experience nature's course in over 17 mos. I stay to myself and focus only on my daughter and doing only what needs to be done or has to be done. I guess the only way to cure this is time and getting these court proceedings to an end.

Expert:  Dr. Michael replied 3 years ago.
In all honesty, I am quite impressed by your self-reflection and ability to look at yourself squarely in the mirror so to speak. This is the most important element to getting over this, learning how to become more assertive with this man you erred in forming a relationship with. You are also understanding your emotional needs, even your "neediness" and this will allow you to better balance being emotionally carried away, with judgment, rational thinking and appropriate caution in your next relationship with someone. (It IS too bad we have to have such awful first-hand experiences to learn this stuff, isn't it?)

You sound as though you will begin to continue to grow and mature if you can manage to get this guy out of your life for good. You are wise in simply focusing on your daughter at this time, trying to process what you've been through---your instincts that it is perhaps not a good idea for you to jump into another relationship right now is very, very sound. You need time to recompose yourself and your life. You are making a number of good decisions right now for yourself. You clearly have the capacity to have a high level of empathy for others, and if you choose wisely is suspect you will do well in a future relationship. You will take is slow, be cautious and be cognizant that your emotional neediness must not allow you to make premature decisions (e.g., have unprotected sex with someone).

Please accept my best wishes for you.


"PLEASE.....Show respect for your expert. If the information shared with you has been helpful, confirm this by Accepting their answer and provide Feedback. Thank you!"
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Thank you so much for your kindness and caring without knowing me from Adam. I truly appreciate your time today and insight. It's funny how you have said and stated exactly the same things EVERYONE in my life and daughter's life has said without an in person meeting or contact.. I do accept your best wishes and heartfelt thoughts to this matter. Thanks is not enought for you today.
Expert:  Dr. Michael replied 3 years ago.
Thank you for your kind words. You sound like a very interesting and good person that I or anyone would like to get to know better. If I can be of help in the future, do let me know.

Best wishes to you.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
It's only too bad you couldn't be around to explain this to the judge where my daughter is concerned. Laughing
Expert:  Dr. Michael replied 3 years ago.
Yes, I know----another time, place, situation.

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