Sharing a Room....
Moms View Message Board: General Discussion: Archive November 2006:
Sharing a Room....
I need some advice.... I am divorced and my ex has a stepson who is 13 who does not live with him, but has visitation with his mom on the same weekends that my DDs go see their dad. My problem is that right now my ex is living with his wife and their 3 year old son in a 2 bedroom apt. When my DDs go to see him they are sleeping in the same room with the 13 year old step son. I have serious issues with this, and I have expressed these issues to my ex and he still does not separate them when they sleep. Is there anything I can do legally to make him separate them when sleeping or is it just something that I am going to have to live with?
I do not know that anything has ever happened or ever would. I just don't think that it is a good situation and that it is a risk that is unacceptable to me.
Any advice would be greatly appreciate any advice or even opinions.. I know I may be overreacting but I just don't like it.
You're not over-reacting. Not only do I think it's wrong for them to sleep together, personally I think it's pretty rotten of both parents to have the non custodial children visit on the same weekend. Perhaps they're trying to foster a sibling relationship, but frankly it seems unfair. Since the kids see their bio parent so infrequently (I assume, since it sounds like every other weekend type visits) it would be nice if when they did visit they had more attention and that can't happen when the other child is visiting, too.
Legally I guess I'd check with your lawyer. Is there anything written in your agreement about him providing a bedroom for her and her own bed? DOES she have her own bed??
I wouldn't just 'live' with it. I'd ensure she gets her own room and bed, or her weekends changed.
I COMPLETELY agree with everything Kate said. I do believe there is something legally that can be done with different sex, non-siblings sharing the same room, especially at that age...
I wouldn't accept it. Not at all. You are definitely not overreacting!
From what I can get from Alexis and Jordan (DDs) they share a full size bed with each other and their step brother sleeps on the floor. I am not totally sure that this is true because they know I don't approve of them sharing a room. They have lied in the past to protect him, if it is something that they know I do not approve of. I have asked him as far back as 3 years ago to stop this and it has just recently started back up or I just recently found out that it was going on again.
I thought that Child Protective Services wants to see every child in a bed and if the 13-year-old is stuck on the floor during his visits then you could say it's a CPS issue. The 13-year-old can go to a blow up bed (that counts, I hear) in the living room.
Where does the 3-year-old sleep?
I would urgently suggest you talk to your lawyer. If you don't have a lawyer, here's what I would do. I would write a letter to your ex - something like this:
On several occasions I have expressed my concerns to you about your 13 year old step-son sharing a bedroom with our 9 and 11 year old daughters. As you know, I believe it is totally inappropriate for adolescent and pre-adolescent children of different genders to share a bedroom. This is supported by many child-raising authorities. You have ignored my concerns and my request that your step-son and our daughters do not share sleeping quarters. Therefore, I am formally requesting that you and your wife arrange visitation schedules so that your step-son and our daughters do not visit on the same weekends, or, minimally, do not sleep at your apartment if they do visit on the same weekends. If you do not agree to this, I will file a petition with the Court seeking an order that our daughters do not have visitation with you at the same times and days that your step-son has visitation with his mother or that, minimally, our daughters' visitations with you will take place only during the day and they will not sleep at your apartment. Sign it, and send it by Certified Mail Return Receipt.
If you have a lawyer, have your lawyer write the letter. And ask the lawyer if you can withhold visitation until your ex complies.
This is so totally inappropriate, for so many reasons. Not the least of which is that they don't even have the taboos that siblings generally have - and we all know just how often those taboos are broken. Minimally, his wife should be sleeping in the bedroom with the girls and the boy should be sleeping in the bedroom with his step-father. I don't think that even putting the boy on the floor in the living room is adequate, given their obvious lack of concern for the situation and possible happenings.
And then, if he refuses, I would head to the Courthouse. And, if he says he has made alternative arrangements, I would make a surprise visit (several frequent surprise visits, in fact) to their apartment on weekends when your daughters are there, and if the boy is there, I would be at the courthouse the following Monday. I am sure that a clerk in the Domestic Court office will help you prepare a petition. And I would hope that a judge would understand and support the idea that it is inappropriate for adolescents of opposite gender, who are only related by the marriage of their parents, to sleep in the same bedroom.
I would mail the letter on a Monday, and on the day before your daughters' next visit, tell them that you have told their father that you do not want them to be spending the night at the same time that their step-brother spends the night, and you think their father may be unhappy about this. You really don't want your daughters to walk into an unpleasant surprise.
I am guessing that the parents - your ex and his wife - set it up this way so they would have some weekends where it is just them and the baby, without thinking through the various ramifications. It was probably a matter of their convenience and a lack of thought.
I know for a fact that my ex cannot take the girls on the opposite weekend that he takes them now because he works every other Saturday night.
I know the 3 year old son also sleeps in the same room as the other kids.
I have been needing to talk to a lawyer soon because my oldest doesn't want to go to her dad's most weekends and I make her anyway because I am not sure when she can make that choice for herself.
Thanks for all the help and reassuring me that I was not over-reacting.
If she doesn't want to go but you feel she still should, perhaps spending the day instead of staying overnight would be a better option for her.
Most divorced parents I know do have all kids visit on the same weekend, but that sleeping arrangement is not acceptable.
I strongly support your talking to a lawyer. Your older daughter is 11, and some courts will take her wishes into account, at least a bit, especially if she can articulate her reasons for not wanting to visit and they sound reasonable. You should also talk to the lawyer about whether having a court ordered psychiatrist see at least the older girl is a good idea. I would want to know why she doesn't want to go, and would wonder if the step-brother is part of that issue.
It's a shame he has to work every other Saturday night, but then his step-son could visit on the weekends when he has to work Saturday night, because the boy is his wife's son and she is the one who has the visitation (on paper, anyhow). That would serve the same purpose.
The 3 year old sleeps in the same room? In a bed, on the floor, in a crib? Something is really not good there. If that's the case, then mom and step-dad could have the step-son and 3 year old sleep in their room, and the girls could have privacy. Yes, the adults need privacy, but they can give it up for Friday and Saturday night every other week. I still think they should be visiting on opposite weekends. There is obviously not enough room in that apartment for a 9 year old, an 11 year old, a 13 year old and a 3 year old, along with two adults.
I was also thinking that 4 kids in an apartment-sized bedroom would be awfully crowded. Good luck, with your situation!
Ditto Ditto Ginny-I think you brought this subject up awhile ago and I strongly agree that you do something about it.This is your gut feeling telling you that it's inapporopriate so now you have to do something about it.I wouldn't worry about anybody elses feelings right now except your DD's.They need a parent to look out for them and protect them.
I believe I may have brought this up a while back but since then my ex had separated from his wife and the girls were not around the step-brother for about 5 months. But it looks like now that my ex and his wife are going to try to work things out, so now this is a concern again. Thank you all for the support and great advice and comfort that you have given me. I am going to contact my lawyer ASAP to see what I need to do about this.
Ginny... your advice is always so sound and exactly what I needed to hear and know...
i agree talk to the lawyer and put it on record
with the court
DITTO GINNY!!!!!!!!!!!!! In my experience, if you suspect red flags, they are usually there somewhere!!! Talk to a lawyer!!!!!
Well I spoke to my attorney today and he suggested doing what Ginny said before we take him to court and list all my concerns and then state what I would agree to and then ask him if he agrees to follow these things to sign the agreement and send it back to me. I sent it certified today and was told to give him about a week after receiving it respond and if nothing has happened then we would look into taking him to court since no judge in Texas (my attorney's words) would allow a 12 year old girl and a 13 year old boy that are not related to sleep in the same room.
Thank you all for your support.
Good luck with this Tara!!!
Good luck, Tara. And, if he agrees, remember, make some surprise visits. And when you do, have your digital camera or camera phone with you so that you can take a picture if things are not what they should be.
Ditto Ginny-I'm glad you're doing this.You and you're DD's are going to feel alot better in the long run. Good for you!!((HUGS))
Oh, and by the way - kudos to your lawyer for telling you how to do something yourself instead of charging you an hourly rate to write the letter for you.
I'm so glad you're getting this worked out Tara! I would be so not agreeing with those sleeping arrangements either!!
Kudos to you and your lawyer!
I'm new to this thread and topic. I can't believe your ex and wife don't see the problem with this. I don't even have our baby sleep in my DD's room (8yrs) because she is in school and needs her sleep and has tons of hazzards for babies in her room. That is just something logical and no worries of boy/girl at such a delicate age group. Hope things work out of you and quickly.
Well I just got a call from my ex telling me that he will not agree to the letter I sent him. So it looks like I will be calling the lawyer back on Monday and seeing what I can do to get an injunction to stop my girls from going to their father's this weekend. I am soooo upset right now. And all this because he won't do what my lawyer told me to have him do. Which was sign the letter and getting it back to me. Well I hope that I can get something done quickly enough to make him not able to take the girls next weekend. I worry that he will take it out on them.
I really think that he is do this just to get to me. His wife was in the background just yelling that there was no way I could tell them how things should be at their house.
Sometimes I just wish he would give up his rights and leave us alone. I know that the girls need a dad and he could be worse but I hate dealing with him about anything.
Tara, in the long run it is probably best he didn't sign the letter - given his wife's reaction. If he had signed it, there is no way you could be sure he was keeping to the terms of the letter without making surprise visits, which could lead to some nasty battles. When you see your lawyer, talk to him about how the court can guarantee that he adheres to the terms of any court order - if the court orders that the girls either not visit when the boy is there (which I personally would think is the best plan, because it would be the easiest to check up on), or that different sleeping arrangments are set up, or that the girls' visits don't include staying overnight (also easy to check up on, but likely to lead to more battles each evening, maybe along with dad saying "I would have liked to done thus-and-so, but it's time for you to go back to your mother's house so we can't do that tonight.").
I hear what you are saying that you wish he would give up his rights, and I do understand that you are tired of the constant hassle - but you said it and you are right that the girls need a dad.
Do find some way to talk to your daughters about what is going on so they don't run into any nasty surprises the next time they talk to or see their dad. You don't have to put any blame. Just say, you know I don't think it is a good idea for you to share a bedroom with X when you visit your dad. I asked your dad to agree to an arrangement where you would not share a bedroom with X, and he won't agree. So, I'm sorry to say, we will have to ask the court to decide what is best. If they ask questions about why you don't want them to share a bedroom with X, all you have to say is that you don't think it is a good idea for girls of their ages to share a bedroom with a boy of his age, that you have been reading some books about this, and the experts agree that it is not a good idea. You don't think that your daughters would do anything not nice, or wrong, but it is just best to not have boys and girls in the same bedroom after they reach a certain age. You can probably point out that none of their friends share bedrooms with people of the other gender, so they can see that what you are asking of their father is the usual way of doing things. If the girls point out that there are only two bedrooms in their father's apartment, you can agree, but say that you are sure something could be worked out so that the girls and X don't share a bedroom when they visit - it just takes some thinking, and that is what you are asking the court to do.
What is important is to acknowledge that their father has a right to have them visit, but that you have a right to make sure that things are done properly and appropriately, and that their father and you differ on what is right and appropriate.
I remember that your older girl has said she doesn't want to visit - and once you tell them what is going on, she may talk with you about that. It's important for you to listen, not lay any blame, and to tell your lawyer what she says. (And, as I suggested earlier, maybe ask for a court ordered psychiatrist to learn why she doesn't want to visit.)
I'm sorry you have this battle ahead of you, but as Ginny said, at least you won't have to be guessing if he only signed the paper to be done w/ it, but never intends to do it. Good luck to you.
I am so unbelievably nervous about this whole thing. I haven't slept since Thursday and my stomach is tied in knots. My lawyer is in court today so I am not sure if I will get to speak to him today or not. I hope so because I would like to have this taken care of ASAP and know if my DDs will have to go to my ex's this weekend for visitation. I cannot legally without something from the court keep them from going to their dad's.
I know he is going to badmouth me to no end to my DDs when they see him next. Jordan (my youngest) is having behavior problems already that we are trying to figure out what they stem from. She is seeing a counselor a couple of times a week right now but it is the very beginning of this and she is not opening up to her yet.
I really wish I had some sort of reassurance from my lawyer to know that they don't have to go to his house until this is taken care of in court.
I don't want the girls to think their dad is bad or anything but I also don't want them to think I am the bad guy. I know when they get older they will understand why I am doing this but right now Jordan thinks we are fighting and that I am not letting her go see him. Because Alexis has added her opinions to what I told them and Jordan believes everything that Alexis says.
I just want to scream right now. I want to protect my girls but I also don't want to cause them any more pain or stress than I have to.
I guess this is more of a vent than anything.. I am so upset and don't know where to turn. This brings out all the feelings I thought I had finally gotten over about my ex.. how much I hate him and how he has always treated me and the girls. It is sooo hard not to just sit and cry about all of this and I have to try to work and put on my happy face for the girls when I get home.
first of all big hugs to ya! u deserve an award for standing up for the girls and showing htem how strong u are. they will be watching ur example as a person and u will set the standard for them as they become a mother. go ahead and cry let it out. then stand tall and strong for what ever reason it was that u and he divorced dont let him and the reasons bring u down. u have come along way. yeah life will give u some hills or mountains to climb but never so high of mountains u can appreciate the view when u get there. Ur never alone when u get up there. pull ur support team around ya and keep them close as u go thru this. u have us always have us here! by the way u never over react when u are protecting ur kids. specially if u are following a gut instinct that something is wrong or unacceptable. he has to follow guide lines about sleeping arrangements. that the court system has already put into law. keep us informed
I have to say this and hopefulyl no one gets mad but if you do not feel you children are safe in that room then just do not send them. If your lawyer cannot get things straight before this weekend just keep your kids home. You have to do waht your mom gut tells you and that is keep your kids first.
Good luck to you. I do know in Michigan the law would not allow him to live that way and have his girls there. There has to be enough rooms for each gender and age group of kids.
I understand where Tonya's coming from. The problem is, you don't want to give a judge any reason to rule against you, and, excuse me please, Texas ladies, you are in Texas, where a lot of men don't think women have many rights (yes, I know, Texas was the first state to pass an Equal Rights Amendment, and I frequently remind myself of that, but we're talking good ol' boy culture here). But do ask your lawyer about a temporary order, sort of like a preliminary injunction, that the girls can't visit until an investigation is done and a hearing is held. And, while you're at it, can you ask a friend to call your community's version of the child protective agency (DHS or Dept. of Human Services in a lot of places) and ask them what the rules are for unrelated children of opposite genders and the ages of your daughters sharing a bedroom.
I have a friend calling CPS tomorrow to find out regulations about that, and my attorney is working on an injunction so the girls don't have to go this weekend or until the courts make a decision about this.
I know where Tonya is coming from also but my ex is mad enough that he would do anything possible to get me back for this so not sending them without court approval could put me in jail and I could end up with a large fine. So this is a last resort for now.
And you are totally right about the mentality of some people down here. I watch what I do and say when it comes to the courts in TX.
My ex and I come from a small town and know everyone, so since I don't live there anymore I am going through a different county to have all this taken care of (the county I live in now) so we don't end up with a judge that he knows.
I've dealt with the TX courts, and it's a myth (one that I had been told MANY times) that they favor the mother, because I had to fight tooth and nail to keep my kids, even though my ex's house was dangerous. So, while my instinct says Tonya is right, it's not that simple. I know for a fact that in TX custody paperwork there is a page saying law enforcement officials can enforce the hand-over of children for visitation. If the primary conservator refuses to allow the visitation, it's contempt of court, and an arrestable offense.
As for calling CPS, that is your best option, because if they find that it's unsuitable arrangements they can ask the judge to appoint an attorney ad litum, to represent the children. In my experience, the ad litum is the one the judge listens to, because it's not your lawyer or his, it's an independent lawyer for the kids. Good luck with all of this, I hope they move quickly with the injuction.
Tara, it sounds like you and your lawyer are doing everything that can be done. Your job now is to calm your daughters down, reassure them that you love them and their father loves them, and that nothing will change that fact. You should be hugging them, listening to them, and helping them to get soothed and sorted out. You can warn them that their daddy is angry with you, but at the same time reassure them that their daddy is NOT angry with them. They don't have to know all the details, so if they ask you should think carefully about what you say to them (especially because they might be asked by the judge, CPS, or a counselor about what you said). And they do need to know, as many times as you need to tell them, that none of this is their fault and that you are really, really sorry that they are suffering from the fallout of two adults who have not been able to work things out in an adult way. If they blame you for being one of the two adults who can't work things out, simply tell them that you tried to work things out and it didn't work, so that's why you are asking the court to work things out, because that's the judge's job - to sort things out when two people can't agree.
Please be very careful about what you say to your daughters because you can be very sure that they will tell someone sooner or later. What it boils down to, in terms of what you might say to your girls, is that you believe the sleeping arrangements are not proper and you want different sleeping arrangements, and that is what it is all about. Which really is the gist of it if you take out all the nonsense that is being thrown into the mix.
If your daughters tell you that daddy is saying bad things about you, just say - well, he's angry, and sometimes when people are angry they say things they wouldn't say otherwise, so let's just ignore it. Don't criticize their father or try to tell them how what daddy is saying is wrong - that just puts them in the middle. Take the high ground - daddy is angry and we have to understand that he is talking out of his anger, and that he probably wouldn't say things like that if he weren't angry. I'm not going to pay any attention to it, and I hope that you don't pay any attention to it either.
Unless there is a clear and immediate danger, you usually don't go wrong by taking the high ground - or at least being seen to be taking the high ground. It has nothing to do with what you are feeling and everything to do with how you are behaving, and your behavior is what your children and others will judge.
I will be thinking about you and crossing all my fingers. It sounds like you have a good lawyer, who knows what to do and is doing it, and that's all you can do right now.
I am so glad I have never worked in domestic law. I am sure that I would be frequently wanting to get someone upside the head for not putting their children first. And I don't mean you, Tara - I mean your ex and his wife. Any parent who badmouths the other parent to the children is just not thinking of the children's welfare.
Well this is what is happening now. I got a call from my lawyer yesterday about 3 telling me that he was too busy to handle my case right now and he gave me the name and # of someone else. Well I decided I would go with one of my sis's friend's friends instead. I called her yesterday afternoon and we discussed the case for almost an hour. She said that since we need to change counties from where my ex lives to where I live there is no way it can get done by friday (thanks to the other lawyer for wasting 2 days). So this weekend I am just going to have to let them go to their dad's. I am going to talk to both girls and explain that thier dad is probably pretty mad at me right now and that I would really like them to ask to sleep in a different room than the 13 year old.
She decided that after that we will do a change of counties and have her send a letter and call CPS on him also. If this doesn't stop everything in it's tracks (CPS may put a stop to all of it without me having to pay to go back to court) then we will take him back to court for a modification. She also told me I need to come up with 4 or 5 other things that I would not mind having modified but are not important to me. That way we have leverage when we are in court. She said if you take only one thing to court you have a 50/50 chance (with this one she said probably more but there is no sure things) so if you take 5 or 6 things you can say well i will go without this one or all of these but this one has to be done and it looks like we are trying to be fair.
I am extremely nervous about this weekend and I am sure that I won't sleep or feel right until they come home on sunday, but I can't do anything to have the courts look down on me if I want all this to actually happen. Alexis has a cell phone and I will tell her to call me right before she goes to bed to make sure that they are not sleeping in the same room and if they are I will call her dad and tell him it is not acceptable. I don't think he will force them to sleep in the same room but I am not sure my DDs are brave enough to say it to their dad.
Thanks for all y'alls advice and support in this very stressful situation.
Okay I am venting again... My ex just called me to see if he was getting the girls the weekend and I said I don't know are you? Of course he said yes. But the weidest part was that he told me that I was being stupid and wasting my money about the whole thing. He said he sas talked to quite a few people and they all have told him that the only way a judge will side with me on this is if there are aligations of rape, molestation or some sort of abuse. I just don't get how he can not see the problem with a 12 year old girl and a 13 year old boy who are of no blood relation sleeping in the same room.
I think he does this stuff to really get to me. I can't wait until the girls are old enough to make thier own decisions about him and I don't have to deal with his as much anymore.
There is no way you are wasting your time. He must be trying to make you doubt yourself. It is WRONG and the judges should see that as well. Hopefully you will get a female judge who has seen her share of things gone bad.
Tara, you know he is just trying to push your buttons. When he says things like that, you don't have to respond. Or, if you feel you simply must respond because he has left a silent space on the phone, you can say "that's interesting - I guess we'll find out". And, personally, I would wonder if any of the "quite a few people" he talked to were lawyers. My guess is that he is only talking to people that he already knows - his friends - and of course they will agree with him.
By the way, is he paying child support? And paying it on time? If not, that's definitely something you should raise with your lawyer.
Child support has nothing to do with visitation, but it is an issue.
By the way, did your friend call CPS for you?
Yes my friend called CPS and they said that there was nothing they would do since the kids are "related" (I don't exactly consider them related since they barely know each other) and there are no aligations of abuse. She did say that it was something that most judges would probably not allow but that they only handle things when there has been abuse or neglect. The CPS lady told my friend that there are no laws or regulations in TX about how old related children can be to sleep in the same room. But I have found that for foster care and adoptions it is a requirement that boy and girl cannot share a room after age 8 (or something like that).
I did answer with exactly that phrase when he told me all that stuff.
He has never missed a child support payment and it is always on time because he has had the same job since we separated and it is taken directly out of his check and considering he works for a big corporation there is never any delay with the check. If anything sometimes the attorney generals office holds things up when they have a day off.
I am also looking into another thing about support. When we were married he got partial disability from the military for an injury. As it was explained to me at the time he only got a certain percent because he had children and that is not included in the money that he told the attorney general's office he made.
My lawyer told me to come up with some things that I wouldn't mind changing but are not necessary to use as negotiating tools. So any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
No advice or suggestions, just big hugs, sorry your are going through such a difficult time. You are doing the right thing, never doubt yourself always listen to your instincts.
Tara, how is this going? Did they end up going last weekend? I hope it all works out quickly for you!
Just saw this... Well, Alexis went the weekend of the 20th but the step-son was not there. Jordan just didn't want to go and she told her dad so he didn't force the issue. I met with my new lawyer on the 24th and she is going to start out by writing a letter and seeing if he will agree with that. If not we will have to go to court and she did say that since there is no signs of abuse or anything happening there isn't much of a chance to get an injunction before we go to court.
So now it is just a waiting game.
Well my attorney sent my ex a letter with a legal agreement. He actually signed and so we don't have to actually go to court!!! He is having his step son sleep in the living room.
My ex also called me and told me that all the stubbornness was because his wife was throwing a fit about me even saying anything because she thought I was accussing her son of doing something.
Oh well, I am just VERY happy it is all over with.
Congrats!! Maybe now things will be a little easier for you when the girls are there. Way to stand tough.
(((HUGS))) I think your ex finally saw the light and maybe didn't feel good about it either.
Congratulations ! And good job for standing up for your girls and takeing the heat,and not just looking the other direction and hopeing things will get better !! You are a good mother
You did the right thing. Congrats on your *victory*! As for X's wife, she will just have to get over it.
songrats on ur standing up for the girls. Your strength will set and example to them.