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Alex J. Esq.
Alex J. Esq., Attorney at Law
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 17192
Experience:  Licensed experienced Attorney
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I live in Virginia. I have sole physical custody and joint

Customer Question

I live in Virginia. I have sole physical custody and joint legal custody with my ex. Our daughter is 13. He just retired from the navy. We separated in 2006 and divorced a year later. He left me for the woman he later married. He requested and received orders for his last tour of duty as a recruiter in Texas, his home of record after the divorce. We (I) wrote the separation agreement which was later incorporated into the final divorce. Visitation was granted as "liberal" specifically every other weekend and two weeks in the summer. I never limited him to this. My ex was a bad husband, not a bad father and I never told my daughter or my older children (his step children) that they could not see their father at any time. After his move out of state they spent every other Christmas in Texas until my oldest were adults and Shelby, has continued to do so. She also goes there for spring break. At the time of separation my children did not want to be forced to spend time with "the other woman" and is stated as such in the separation, not the divorce. Child support was agreed to $650 a month. In the separation we had decided that $50 of the child support would be used by him to purchase a life insurance policy in my name. This was never done.
I have PTSD from my own military experience and have been followed, treated and dealt with 3 or 4 flare ups in 18 years. (The initial cause was before we were married.) This year instead of flying my daughter to Texas as he has always done, my ex drove here, spent a few days and drove her back to Texas. I knew there was something brewing.
There has been some tension in my household due to a flare up of PTSD which was severe enough that I have been unable to work since April 2 and will be soon filing for SSI disability. I am, as always, being treated by both my civilian physician and by my doctor at the VA. This has never concerned my ex in any way in the past.
I had a feeling my daughter was being "brainwashed" weeks before she left. I had asked her if she was afraid of me, the ptsd, and if she planned on staying longer in Texas. (Some years she has spent most of the summers there but always said she did it for her dad and did not want to really stay that long..after she came home.) She assured me all was well, she understood...I tried to get her into therapy due to the flare up but she refused and said she would go when she returned. She told me 100 times she was only going for 2 weeks. Told her father the same while I was on the phone. Adamently. She is going into high school and wanted a summer with friends for once.
She left all her belongings, only took one small suitcase. I monitor her facebook because in the past few months there have been some inappropriate things said and done and I know hormones flow at that age and mothers become enemies. But we were not.
For the first 2 weeks she did not even stay with her father, but with relatives of his wife 4 hours from his house. During that time I was hospitalized with severe dehydration. I have not been physically 100% due to lack of sleep, over prescribed medication, malnutrition and then my body just shut down. This stress is the icing on the cake. When I was released my daughter called and announced she wasn't coming home. She thinks it is her choice to make and all the words out of her mouth were my ex's verbatim. Nothing I said or did phased her. My ex got on the phone and said he was not bringing her home. Period. Now I can't get either to answer the phone or reply to an e-mail and facebook is not updated. Until today.
I saw a lawyer last week who said my ex was in contempt and sent a letter saying travel arrangements for Shelby must reach his office by August 5th or a warrant would be issued. If sent by mail it should have arrived today. I told no one except my present husband.
Today I saw a message on facebook from his wife saying she had arrived, but did not want to call until she knew what the charges were. A criptic short message. He met her in Germany where she was living and where she has relatives. I am convinced he is planning to take Shelby to Germany. My son got through to Shelby today who confirmed her stepmother was in Germany. She did not know where her father was.
When the divorce was final (I needed no lawyer since the separation had been incorporated fully into the divorce) Mike, the ex brought me a few legal papers, told me it was the final decree. I had no reason to doubt.
The lawyer I saw had to optain the final decree because it was not in anyway what I had been given.
It was still the same as the separation. There was no mention of an insurance policy. It states child support as $650 a month. I have always received no more that $600 and since it was directly sent to me via the military, how is that possible when they must go by the divorce decree?
Now I found she is registered in school there. How is that possible?
I will phone my lawyer in AM, but terrified she may be on plane to Germany
Submitted: 7 years ago.
Category: Family Law
Expert:  Alex J. Esq. replied 7 years ago.
Hello. My name is Alex and I will be happy to answer your question.

Have you made a police report or contacted any other law enforcement agencies?

Does your daughter have a passport?
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
I have not contacted any authority. She did not have a passport prior to leaving here the last week of June. My ex had phoned me a couple months before her scheduled visitation date asking for her social security number. I thought it was strange he didn't know it, and stranger that he said it was to put Shelby on her stepmother's vision insurance? She is already covered via military. So something was brewing even then. My son just called my daughter who was sounding very "flat" she said she was registered in high school there. He must have some sort of false papers to do tht.
Expert:  Alex J. Esq. replied 7 years ago.
Yes it sounds that your ex is planing upon himself to try to gain the physical custody of the child.

Generally both parents would haver to provide a written consent in order to obtain a passport for a minor child who is under 16.

Generally it is suggested for a police report to be made if one parent is refusing to return the minor child to the parent who has physical custody to document the situation and also police would have an ability to flag passports of both the parent who is in contempt and minor child's passport.

Since you already contacted your attorney and planing to be in court first thing tomorrow morning, there is not much else that can be done as far as the the Motion for Contempt goes.

One of the issues that you might have to overcome if there is a custody battle that would be started by your ex, is the fact that court's would give some weight to the wishes of the child who is over 12, as the court's consider minor kids above that age to be mature enough to express their wished as with which parents they would prefer to reside. Of course there are many other facts and aspects to child custody proceedings that would play into judge's decision on this.

If you are satisfied with my answer, I would appreciate if you would click on the accept button.
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Expert:  Alex J. Esq. replied 7 years ago.
Please continue on this thread as it is the same question.

I never stated that your 13 years daughter gets to decide who gets the physical custody, but rather that the court can allow her to testify and express her wishes and concerns, which will be taken into consideration by the judge.

I do agree that the court will not look favorably at his actions and the fact that instead of going through the court to modify custody, your husband simply decided to not return the child.

However this would not preclude him from seeking physical custody and to petition to the court to modify the custody agreement.

If you are satisfied with my answer, I would appreciate if you would click on the accept button.
Please keep in mind if you already made a deposit or on a monthly subscription plan you will not incur any additional charges, but I will only be compensated for my time and effort only if you click on ACCEPT.

Bonus and positive feedback are always greatly appreciated!
Expert:  Alex J. Esq. replied 7 years ago.
I have actually provided you with an elaborate answer to your question.

Is there anything that you want me to clarify for you?

I am sorry that you are going through this and upset and I wish I could provide you with a more favorable answer, however I am sure you would rather have a correct answer, than more favorable incorrect one that might give you false hope or potentially point you in the wrong direction.