I have recently been divorced. There were 2 children involved.
I have recently been divorced. There were 2 children involved. The oldest (8 yo daughter) is from her previous marriage yet I helped raise her from 3 months old. She only knows me as daddy. The younger (5 yo son) is ours together. The bio-father of my daughter has been in and out of her life and just recently sent an email to state he will no longer visit with her, only be financially responsible. Per our divorce decree, I am to have my son every other week during the summer, and every other weekend during school. Recently, we had a situation where my 17 yo niece, who babysits the kids during the day, and we always trusted, did a couple dumb things. First, I had requested one day that my son take a bath as I had plans for us that night. She couldn't get him to do it like is common with 5 yo's. She finally got him to do it by taking a shower with him. She didn't think anything of it at first because it's family. Well she immediately realized it was wrong and told me as soon as i got home. I rated it as a poor decision by a 17 yo, sternly talked with her that it could never happen again, and left it at that. Her second mistake, which was the final straw, was when she was skypeing her boyfriend while watching the kids. My daughter later told her mom that she saw the boyfriends "pee pee" on the phone. She also said my niece asked her not to tell anyone. BIG mistake and poor decision by a 17 yo. This was found out by my son going up to his sister and dancing and thrusting his groin in her face. When asked why he was doing that, daughter said he's acting like my niece's boyfriend on the phone. Needless to say, this started a firestorm with the ex. I confronted my niece who said her bf was dancing like that on the phone but had his clothes on. She doesn't believe his unit was out at all. She said if they did see it, it would have been when he was getting dressed for work or something like that. Why they would skype while doing that, I don't know. Poor judgement/mistake number 3. Anyway, now she will only let me see my son. I cannot see my daughter anymore. My son tells me that she is always saying how much she misses her daddy, meaning me and crying about it often. Yet the ex won't even let me take her to dinner. She states that if I push her on it, she will turn in my niece as a sex offender. Kind of blackmail. She has also only let me have my son for every other weekend visits, even though the divorce decree states that in the summer we will rotate complete weeks. I don't feel as though I did anything wrong because it happened while I was at work. We both trusted the niece completely to watch them. The last part of this.....I am staying with my mom until I get back on my feet and have recovered enough from the divorce to buy/rent my own place. I have made arrangements to stay with my dad on weeks/weekends when I have my son/kids so that they are not around my niece as my niece also lives with my mom. The ex and I have both agreed on one thing...that we don't want the kids around the niece anymore. Ex has made the threats though, that if she finds that I have allowed the kids to see the niece, she will turn the niece in and also call CPS on my living situation. Anyway, i have a couple questions. First, in Colorado, is there any law to grant me any sort of visitation with my daughter? I've done some research online and have found a few vague references to step-parents rights, but the legalese can be confusing. Second, can she do what she's doing with the visitation? I don't want my niece to be stuck with the stigma of being a sex offender the rest of her life. But at the same time, I miss my kids with all my heart. Third, can what my niece did possibly be considered criminal? Or just a case of poor judgement? We had been co-parenting very well until this situation came up. Then everything hit the fan. I hope all of this makes sense. Thanks for your guidance.
Counselor at Law