Co-Parenting Challenges After Divorce - Talk About Marriage
Life After Divorce Divorce is complicated, and change is never easy to cope with. Use this section for help and advice on living life after a divorce.

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post #1 of 51 (permalink) Old 12-19-2016, 11:04 AM Thread Starter
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Co-Parenting Challenges After Divorce

Hi everyone,

A brief history, then a few questions as I seek advice for how best to navigate things. Four years ago (I was married at the time) I discovered my wife was in an emotional affair. We spent 9 months in marriage counselling, at the culmination of it I uncovered that her affair had continued during the counselling and had turned physical and that she had two other confirmed physical affairs earlier in our 8 year marriage, and one while we were engaged in college. A serial cheater. This was about 3 years ago, I took my ring off, and we separated. In the interest of my daughters (5 and 8 now), I chose to go the no contest route and we both decided to tell people we were unhappy together, and felt that divorce was best. I always kept my daughters in mind, during this difficult time... confiding in close friends and relatives about the extent of what had happened. I moved on, and focused on my daughters and being the best father I could.

My ex-wife has signs of BPD, it wasn't until I was on the outside that I started to recognize her need for chaos in her life. Reflecting back I see myself as a different man, and I was broken and confused the entire marriage, it was codependency for sure... once out of it I started to heal a great deal. I became a better father, son and brother. I became confident in myself and my role in my daughters lives. In that I've been felt empowered and like I have a say in their lives (ironically more so than I had in our marriage, where everything had to go her way or else). I have a great relationship with both of my daughters, particularly the 8 year old who thinks and operates (mentally) very much like I do. We have joint custody, but she has about 75 of the time with the girls (a decision I made 3 years ago based on my situation at the time... and knowing I didn't want my career to fall apart because of the divorce. She was a stay at home mom. I wish I had figured out a way to make 50% work (daycare, family help) but I didn't so I'm at where I'm at now). I get them every other weekend Thursday - Sunday. I attend all of their sports and never miss appointments (our youngest has a heart condition and receives a lot of medical care... has had 3 open heart surgeries).

My ex-wife showed signs of repeating her same patterns with her dating life after our divorce, but I just observed this through patterns I noticed passively, and what my daughters would say about their lives and interactions with people. She moved from affair guy (the last one) quickly to another guy, but neither knew about the other. They overlapped a couple months. That next guy she was with for 18 months and he was involved with her family and my daughters. I liked him and met him a couple times, he was respectful and my daughters seemed to like him. About the last six months of their relationship my ex-wife was on dating sites and a new guy came up (who she ended up marrying this last summer). The reason I bring this up is because my daughter asked me about a year ago "is it ok to kiss two different guys?" and odd question from a 7 year old. So I asked her why she asked. We talked about it and she explained to me that she's met both of these men and sees her mother being affectionate with both, and being told not to tell each of them about one another. I told her, best I could at a 7 year old level, how she shouldn't hide things from people, and that her mother is likely doing that not to hurt the feelings of the two men... I used it as a lesson for her to know that it's not something I agree with, but that mommy has a right to do what she wants with her life. However, she might end up hurting the feelings of those guys and if she really cares about them she should tell them. My daughter asked if she should tell them, and I told her no... because of this I felt the need to bring it up from a context of "none of my business what you do in your personal life but I'd want to know if my daughter was seeing this kind of thing... so here is what your daughter has said to me."

Here is the first big challenge I'm facing time and time again. Whenever I confront their mother about a situation I feel is a less than ideal parenting decision on her part... she ends up punishing the girls for the knowledge. In this case, the next time I saw my daughter she told me "Mommy says she's really in love with (new guy) and that we can't see (old guy) anymore." so I guess that kind of solved the "problem" but I wonder how my daughter sees all of this and what the impact is on her. Honestly, I hate getting in the middle of it, but this is the link where we are tied forever... at least to a great deal while the girls are so young. I've learned that it's best to avoid getting involved in her life... but at times I get so upset at what I see and I fear my emotions about it affect how I react. I'm only human.

My ex-wife married the guy ("new guy" above) this last summer. I had an opportunity to meet with him for dinner for the first time. They told me 3 weeks before the marriage and then moved into a house in the same neighborhood that my ex-wife and I used to live in (which is kind of awkward... I'm not sure how it's not weird for her). I chose to keep all of my history with my ex-wife to myself... and focus our conversations about my daughters and just trying to get to know this guy who is now going to be a significant character in their lives. It was then that I found out about when they started dating and how... it was clear in his description, and romanticizing their "love at first sight" and that he had a previous marriage 10 years ago but hadn't dated at all because he was so picky about finding "the one"... it seemed to me that he had been blindsided by her ways, and I could relate to how her and I first started (it seemed so perfect at first). He didn't know she was still involved, and her children, with this other guy about half the time they were together before getting married. Anyway, that's about her character... the reason I mention it. I did grapple with this tug of war in my head at the time... wanting this guy to know the history and who I was as a father to my daughters. I got the impression he was told I abandoned them, walked out... his advice to me seemed to center around hanging in there and trying to be more active in their lives. So I spent a great deal of this meal describing just how active I had been and my philosophies on parenting and the rest. It was cordial.. I left it feeling good about the guy.

Since that time things have headed south. I think a part of it is my ex-wife painting me as wrong in everything and working to be a victim in every exchange we have. They both seem to be actively trying to remove me from the girls life... like they are bothered I'm around. The regular date nights I take my daughters on have been pushed aside. I get e-mails from my ex that seem to be written from him (it's doesn't sound like her) that point to a lot of power moves and are written almost as though I'm lucky to have the time with them I do. I find myself getting so agitated and resorting to an older self of wanting to tell people how she is... who she really is. To validate my position of feeling so taken advantage of in all of this. I know this is unhealthy and it only serves to get more mixed up in the drama. It's a constant struggle to deal with someone who has this disorder. If things are chaotic she gets nice about stuff... when I'm stand-offish and stern... she's proper and nice. She's so masterful at finding ways to rope me in, in very subtle ways... like agreeing, in front of my daughter, to allow me to take her to dinner only to then send me an e-mail saying "oh so sorry... we're focusing on our new traditions now... it's not going to work this month... lets try next month." and I know this is her own issues that this year the girls are with me for Christmas and she's upset over that.

Are there any books or support groups in dealing with this kind of stuff. Single dads trying to stand up for their place in kids lives... and how to manage the landmines that get thrown out there from BPD personality exes. I'd say 95% of the time I'm ok, and everything works... I set boundaries and stick to them and I just work what I can in my own relationship with my daughters... but in the time where we have to communicate or work together on things. She is persistent in causing havoc. So much so that at times i feels like co-parenting, or attempting to, is actually more damaging to my daughters than simply ignoring her and trying to go at everything devoid of interaction with her.

Maybe this was just a lot of venting... I could really use some feedback and advice. Last night was tough on me. My daughter noticed we hadn't been on a dinner date in a while... and she was so excited when her mom said yes. I can only imagine her let down... and I'm sure her mom is not making this easy on her. I have a call with my lawyer this afternoon about this. As I understand it... if for the last 3 years we've had a regular routine (I have records, about 22 dinner dates each year total) of these dinner dates in the middle of the 10 day period I don't have my daughters... even though it's not in our agreement, it's been established and is a beneficial thing for the girls. Since their marriage the frequency has been cut in half. I'm going to pursue trying to get some kind of legal process underway to... force her to allow her daughters to maintain that relationship with me. I'm already dreading how she's going to deal with that... and can anticipate a million ways shell make it miserable for my daughter and me.


Last edited by Thomas0311; 12-19-2016 at 11:14 AM.
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post #2 of 51 (permalink) Old 12-19-2016, 11:39 AM
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Re: Co-Parenting Challenges After Divorce

You are their father. If you're not getting your time give her one warning and then lawyer up.

Don't make idle threats. Her new H has no business interfering with your parenting time.

If they don't comply put the hammer down quick
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post #3 of 51 (permalink) Old 12-19-2016, 12:21 PM
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Re: Co-Parenting Challenges After Divorce

Simply explain that your parenting time is not to be interfered with, parental alienation is not something judges look kindly on, and that you will get a lawyer involved, if necessary. Then follow through.

Follow the evidence where it leads and question everything.
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post #4 of 51 (permalink) Old 12-19-2016, 12:26 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Co-Parenting Challenges After Divorce

You're right. My gut tells me that the underlying issue here is that her new husband views this all from a different scope (when really he has no legal say in things). He has primary custody of his 12 year old son, with his own ex-wife who, as I understood it, is rather absent from his life and she sort of comes and goes so he's taken on the main responsibility for their son... in that he has a lot more power, say and control over the custody - he may actually be sole custody and just give her visitation. (my ex started calling my time visitation recently). Ever since he entered the picture she's gotten bolder in how she handles issues with the girls and speaks as though she's somehow got more than a 50/50 say in their lives. Some of the e-mails seems to be written from him (not her) because of the tone and words don't fit with what I know of her.

I'm hoping that my lawyer sends a shot against their bow (for lack of a better term on this) and they both get the point... so we can avoid a costly legal battle. I wouldn't be surprised if he has not even read our separation agreement of divorce decree... he's probably advising her based on her interpretation and summary of it. That could be a costly mistake on their part... will let you know what the lawyer says this afternoon.


Some of the words from her e-mails on this:

"Our level of contact established in the PSA and divorce decree is clearly defined. However, nowhere in the documentation does is state that I am obligated to provide you X number of date nights per month."

"To further illustrate our support of your relationship with the girls, on 1 September you stated: “Between the two of them I’ve taken them on 22 dinner dates (two to three hours apiece) in the last year, and 19 in the previous year, or once each month.” Even in your own words it is evident I support your relationship with the girls prior to, and post my marriage, going above and beyond our decree."

"It is very clear I am enabling and encouraging your relationship with the girls. And just like you I am trying to build a relationship with the girls. My hope is that you would in turn respect my relationship with the girls and my family. To use my right to focus on my family during this busy month against me is unfair and honestly, quite hypocritical."

Since they got married 5 months ago they have blocked 5 of 10 of these dinner dates that used to be so easy to schedule.
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post #5 of 51 (permalink) Old 12-19-2016, 12:34 PM
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Re: Co-Parenting Challenges After Divorce

I would VERY VERY clear to new guy that you are their father, and nay traditions are yours to create and not his...and i would seriously think about going back to court and request 50/50.
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post #6 of 51 (permalink) Old 12-19-2016, 12:38 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Co-Parenting Challenges After Divorce

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I would VERY VERY clear to new guy that you are their father, and nay traditions are yours to create and not his...and i would seriously think about going back to court and request 50/50.
As I understand it that is difficult to accomplish. The 50/50 split after another ratio has already been established. My lawyer said you basically have to prove that it's in the kids best interest to add time to you and remove it from the mother. That it's not as simple as "equal time is fair"... but rather requires a lot of evidence (such as what I'm collecting above) and then a costly battle in court. I would absolutely go that route if I thought it was possible to achieve. I'll ask the lawyer again on that one.

The thing I do have going for me there is that our split was based on my understanding that our youngest was at home and not in school. We talked about 50/50 once school happened, but that was never in writing unfortunately. She now says she doesn't recall those conversations. My lawyer advised me to stop the short business trips (I used to be away on 1-2 week trips about every quarter) and establish more routine and stability at home... I've done that in the last year. Maybe I'm in a better place now to have the custody reassessed.
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post #7 of 51 (permalink) Old 12-19-2016, 12:40 PM
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Re: Co-Parenting Challenges After Divorce

Save all the communications from your exwife that show she's preventing you from seeing them regularly. That, coupled with the amount of time you have spent with them, and possibly along with their own testimony to a law guardian should get you an updated order that clearly states when you will have visitation with them.

This is not something you want to sit on for too long otherwise she can try to make the case that you were somehow ok with it, even though it's understandable why a person in your position would not want to rush right back to court.
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post #8 of 51 (permalink) Old 12-19-2016, 12:45 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Co-Parenting Challenges After Divorce

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Save all the communications from your exwife that show she's preventing you from seeing them regularly. That, coupled with the amount of time you have spent with them, and possibly along with their own testimony to a law guardian should get you an updated order that clearly states when you will have visitation with them.

This is not something you want to sit on for too long otherwise she can try to make the case that you were somehow ok with it, even though it's understandable why a person in your position would not want to rush right back to court.
Yes, you're absolutely right... my initial reaction was to wait on this until January to see if the new year improved. I didn't want it to be an issue these holidays... but now that it's been two straight months of it, I'm going to move ahead with things, legally.
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post #9 of 51 (permalink) Old 12-19-2016, 12:46 PM
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Re: Co-Parenting Challenges After Divorce

There are a couple of ways to handle this. Doing the lawyer thing is great IF you have more money than your XWW because every time you go to court it is going to cost her money as well as you. If you can afford the legal costs more than she can then you have an upper hand that she will soon realize and that will prevent a lot of the unnecessary problems. And getting the parenting plan modified is not that difficult to do.

Now as far as how to deal with your kids, well that's an entirely different matter. With kids your job is to be the best role model in their lives. That means that it is not your job to protect your XWW's secrets from your kids or to tell them that what she is doing is right when it clearly is not. Be the parent that is honest with your kids, but answer their questions in an age appropriate and non-judgmental way. I always tell my kids that I will never lie to them. If they came to me with a question about mommy secretly dating two guys I'd ask them if they think it is right or wrong and discuss how we shouldn't do things that can hurt other people. I'd also discuss whether it is better to lie to protect someone's feelings or better to not do things that we have to lie about.
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post #10 of 51 (permalink) Old 12-19-2016, 01:43 PM
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Re: Co-Parenting Challenges After Divorce

@Thomas0311, you mentioned that you and your wife share legal joint custody but you opted to have the girls every other thurs-sun only. Do you make up the 50/50 by taking them for weeks during the summer? If not, did your child support represent the fact that your wife had the kids 75% of the time? I'm just trying to figure out why you can't just exercise your legal right to 50/50 custody/visitation as that's what's written in your agreement.

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post #11 of 51 (permalink) Old 12-19-2016, 02:09 PM
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Cool Re: Co-Parenting Challenges After Divorce

I'm in agreement with those of my TAM cohorts who advocate an absolute minimum of a 50/50 custody split!

Get this legal process in action yesterday! Please don't miss out on being an integral part of these most formative years of your daughters lives!

Years fron now, they both will absolutely laud you for it!

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post #12 of 51 (permalink) Old 12-19-2016, 02:46 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Co-Parenting Challenges After Divorce

Just got off the phone with my lawyer and feeling good about a path forward as it relates to these dinner dates. My lawyer said that she is essentially hanging herself as it relates to this situation, and advised that we begin by sending notice to her counsel. Her latest e-mail she stated:

Quote:
When you dropped the girls off, [daughter] asked for a date on Thursday. I said no we have church. You asked for Wednesday. I said that might work but I need to check my calendar. I forgot we had a commitment that evening with [new husbands]'s colleague.

Moving forward dates night requests need to be written - putting me on the spot is unfair [me: then why did you agree to it at the time and nod your head when I said I'll be here at 5:00pm to pick her up!?]. I don't have my calendar in front of me, it gets everyone's hopes up, and I don't want to make a unilateral decision without consulting [new husband]'s schedule.

With respect to this week/month, we have already had this conversation. See emails below.
My lawyer said that my ex is clearly putting her new husbands position in her daughters lives above mine and that my daughter doesn't need to miss going to dinner with me to visit with her new husbands work colleague. She said that according to our separation agreement (which became our divorce decree) we must provide reasonable access to the kids so long as it's coordinated between us in advance... which is what I've been doing and she just keeps denying it.

My lawyer liked my idea of writing up a schedule for 2017 and outlining the 26 dates I would like to take my daughters to dinner. Above my ex's last e-mail she actually asked for it in writing, so hard for her to then reject it. Establishes my intent to continue this time and my coordination with her on it. I know my ex will hate seeing a schedule for the entire year... she'd prefer to nit pick and reject certain weeks when she feels necessary to express her control. My lawyer said that if she rejects my legal notice (being sent to her counsel tonight) to have the date night with my daughter this Wednesday, or my outlined plan for 2017 then our next step will be mediation attempt (agreement says we must first go that route before taking legal action)... but that if it gets that far she's going to start to cooperate, likely, because everyone at a mediation table will tell her she's being unreasonable if she's putting her new husband first in her daughters lives at the expense of their relationship with me.


In response to the current custody...

Our separation agreement (December 2013; later ratified in our divorce Jan 2015) says we have joint legal custody and therefore retain joint responsibility for the care and control, and joint authority to make decisions concerning the children. The primary residence is listed as wife subject to husband having said children for liberal periods of time throughout the year as set forth by...

"Both husband and wife shall have access to children at all reasonable and seasonable times and places, as agreed upon by parties from time to time and conditioned upon reasonable advance notice of intent to exercise said rights of access and visitation... specifically husband shall have right to children every other Thursday 6pm to Sunday 6pm, and two nonconsecutive one week periods over the summer. As well as the following holiday schedule"

It continues to split things up more 50/50 based on holidays and spring/winter breaks... but she ends up with about 75% of the days in total.

It's never been an issue to this point where she's decided to just withhold them from me for 10 straight days in a row... she seems to think she has the right to do that now because the decree doesn't specifically state I get these dinner dates, although we've done them ever since our separation. My lawyer says they are established and also fall within the right to have access to children at all reasonable and seasonable times and places, agreed upon by parties from time to time with advanced notice.

I asked again about my desire to get to a 50/50 split on the physical time with the kids and she said that will be difficult but not impossible. She said we need a change of circumstances in order to revisit it and then will need to outline why it's in the girls best interest to change the current schedule to fit the new desired one. She said most often this happens when the kids get a little older (into preteen and teen years) and they start to establish a desire and voice an opinion of spending more time with one parent they may be seeing less of. This will definitely be my oldest (turning 8 soon)... she keeps asking me why she doesn't get to see me as much as mom. She has been pleading to even the time out. Her mom tells her that the judge made it this way. I've been telling her, your mother and I had an agreement until you guys were in school after which you were supposed to spend equal time between us... unfortunately your mother and I cannot see eye to eye on it now, but it's because we both love you so much and want to spend as much time with you as possible. Then I assure her I'll continue to fight to get more time with her whenever I can. I'm trying to keep her out of it, and get her to stop asking her mom on a weekly basis. She was doing that last summer, and I think it took a toll on both my daughter and her mother. My daughter wants things to be fair, she is rather mature for a 7 year old... and in a way that's good but in other ways it's sad. I don't want her to grow up too fast or take on the responsibility of this all. I struggle with how to best address this with her when it comes up, though I feel I'm handling it well.

Last edited by Thomas0311; 12-19-2016 at 03:07 PM.
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post #13 of 51 (permalink) Old 12-19-2016, 03:33 PM
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Re: Co-Parenting Challenges After Divorce

I hate to use threat but i would make it very clear as well to your exww that if new hubby does not want to knwo the real truth of why you divorced her then she better get on with the program.
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post #14 of 51 (permalink) Old 12-19-2016, 03:58 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Co-Parenting Challenges After Divorce

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I hate to use threat but i would make it very clear as well to your exww that if new hubby does not want to knwo the real truth of why you divorced her then she better get on with the program.
That's not a bad recommendation, and I've never tried that kind of tactic... I've certainly considered it, and get that devil on the shoulder at times... then recognize what my goal is. Stability for my daughters. I've seen that chaos and feeding into her victim mentality, actually engaging with her in any way as it relates to conflict is exactly what she wants. It allows her to construct her own fantasy about how wronged she is by me, the world and everything. She has no accountability for her affairs, or her decision to continue them while we were in counselling, she's never apologized for it or admitted to any wrong doing - well after we separated she did only briefly in order to try and rope me back in. The few times I let her have it early after our divorce, calling her out for what she did... she would respond with "If you only knew what I've been through, you should hear what people think" (oh please). I honestly hope she changes, grows up... but back to my goal. Stability for my daughters. So the last thing I want to do is undermine or expedite the downfall of her marriage number two... where my daughters might then be exposed to all kinds of trauma. And a new pool of people she starts to date.

That said, I don't want to be a punching bag. My hope is to establish guidelines and routine while side stepping any situations where I become an catalyst for her need to destruct her life. Her husband will most likely end up on the wrong side of her poor decisions at some point... I just hope it's in 7-10 years when my girls are old enough to be almost out and on their own.

Last edited by Thomas0311; 12-19-2016 at 04:15 PM.
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post #15 of 51 (permalink) Old 12-19-2016, 04:35 PM
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Re: Co-Parenting Challenges After Divorce

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Yes, you're absolutely right... my initial reaction was to wait on this until January to see if the new year improved. I didn't want it to be an issue these holidays... but now that it's been two straight months of it, I'm going to move ahead with things, legally.
These things rarely get better. You need to move forceful and fast. Let them figure it out.
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