Ex-wife beginning to play games with child visitation

by Furious Wife #2
(Iowa resident / Minnesota kids)

In June I married a wonderful man, who loves his daughters (14 and 11) with all his heart. It hurts me to see the pain his ex-wife is now causing by playing games with visitation.

Originally, at the time the child support and visitation orders were put into place by the court, he was working massive hours. His visitation was scheduled to be every other weekend Sat @ noon to Sun @ 7pm. After she walked out on the marriage, he lost his job. The father in question moved in order to find work (he had been out of work for over 9 months). The end result was that he lives a bit over 2 hours away from his children.

His ex-wife had been allowing visitation from Friday evening to Sunday evening - with no modification to child support. For the record, support is paid by direct withholding from his paycheck so there is no arrears amount in question.

We had the girls for our first normal weekend in January. Now however, the ex-wife has stated that she does not know when we will have visitation again. The girls are never told "no" by their mother. The 11 yr old has declared that she is going on a Girl Scout trip to Georgia this summer - to the tune of $1,500.

Her mother is saying she will not pay any portion of the trip cost, so the child will have to work every single fundraiser to earn the money. If that means she doesn't get to see her father - "oh well". The oldest is not going to be allowed to have visitation if the youngest is busy with fundraisers as the mother claims it isn't "fair" to the girls for one to visit and not the other.

This has happened before, in Sept/Oct 2011. We had the girls for a normal weekend at the beginning of September - and did not have any visitation again until the end of October. Oh, and that time she sent them down to visit our home completely infested with head lice - but didn't bother to tell us!!

She constantly bad-mouths about their father to the girls. I have been told many times that their mother complains their father doesn't "help with enough stuff". She has decided that he is also responsible for at least 50% of every trip, soccer fee, and other needs the girls may have - over and above the child support already paid. This we have questioned with the county family services and know that she is incorrect in this idea - yet she keeps planting the seed with the girls that dad doesn't care about them, because he's not giving her enough money.

My question is this - can she withhold visitation because of fundraising activity that is scheduled to take place on the father's weekend to have the girls? There are no "make-up" visitations - she is not willing to ever give up her weekends. My husband is simply expected to give up his parenting time whenever she decides it isn't convenient for her, no questions asked.

He is afraid to try and have the custody orders modified because he's gotten it into his head it will cost $20,000 to get a lawyer to fight for custody. Yet there are times when the ex-wife clearly doesn't want the girls. She has, on three occasions, 'threatened' the oldest with having to go live with her father.

After the second threat - I convinced my husband to not talk the ex-wife down from the threat (she has called him each time the threat has been made). He agreed and the third time, the ex-wife drove 1 hour to meet us 1/2 way with the child and turned her over to my husband. Unfortunately, as we headed back on the next morning to take whatever steps were necessary to get custody officially transferred, the ex-wife changed her mind. However, she still has asked both girls repeatedly "don't you want to go live with your father?". I know this because the ex-wife actually told me face to face!

Do we have any hope of getting custody changed due to her behavior? I personally feel it is abusive emotionally/mentally to the girls to be deprived of time with their father at their mother's whim.

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