Old 7th August 2008, 23:35   #1
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Help with ex-wife please.

I have a huge problem I need help with. My 8 year old son lives with his Mother, Stepfather, Grandmother and his little sister. Today, we had planned that he come over to my house at 3pm to visit. He did not show and they did not call to say anything was wrong. So, I went over to their house.

Now, let me explain a little something. Part of the reason I left her in the first place was because she is the most uncleanly person I have ever met. She is self absorbed and has never really taken good care of any home she has ever lived in. When I went over there today, I found things had not changed at all. In fact, they got even worse.

I knocked on the door, waited, rang the doorbell and waited a bit more. Their daughter (2-ish) came to the door wearing no clothes and no diaper. Then the stepfather came. He opened the door and let me in. There was trash everywhere. Literally trash. Not just 'stuff'' but bits of food, crumbs, empty bottles and plastic wrappers. There were plastic bags with garbage in them laying on the floor. One of them had a dirty diaper with poopie in it and their new puppy was digging in it with flies buzzing around his head. Their daughter was running around nekid with poo all over her bottom and she even peed a little on the floor while I was waiting for my son to come downstairs.

I asked why he had not shown up and I was told that he is grounded for a month because he got caught stealing a $5 toy from a local store. I asked them what he would have got if he hadn't gotten caught stealing. I know, being sarcastic but I was already pissed that they were still living in such a mess. My son, bless his heart, was so sad at disappointing me that he trotted back upstairs with a pout on his lips. As I was leaving I told the stepfather that his daughter (oh yeah, the daughter is his) looked like she needed to go to the bathroom. He proceeded to chase her around the living room with a diaper in his hand as she climbed over the furniture wiping the poo from her bottom all over the place.

Now, if you have made it this far without throwing up, I congratulate you. Here is my quandary: How do I get an agency to come over to their house and take witness to this squaller without his mother finding out that I was the one who called? Also, I do not currently have a two bedroom and would not be able to take him in. I am still in a one year lease and cannot yet afford a two bedroom. I don't want him to be sent to a foster home but I do want someone to basically force her to clean up her life. Any advice is appreciated, thanks. Oh, I am hoping to get some pictures soon. If I do, I'll be sure to post them.

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Old 8th August 2008, 00:51   #2
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Just call DHR and tell them the situation. My nurse friend says that since it might end up being a child custody case that they might not let it be an anonymous thing, and I don't think you should do it anonymously anyway.

Things might not end up the way you want, but at the same time, do you want your son living in that situation? Do you want her daughter living in that situation? Do you want any two kids living in that situation?

present day present time
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Old 8th August 2008, 00:56   #3
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they make you get a license to drive a car, but any moron can raise a child. (sigh)

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Old 8th August 2008, 09:50   #4
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That story is hard to believe I mean what kind of people find it normal to live surrounded by trash and excrements? There's a serious issue here.

One thing must prevail here, and that's your son's best interest. And living in a house full of shit and trash is clearly not his best interest.

Rest assured that it I were in such a situation, I wouldn't accept it and I wouldn't care about keeping it anonymous.

Of course, you should first try the diplomatic approach, which means talking to your wife about this but she's probably aware of the issue already.

So it seems that tackling the problem directly is the way to go. I don't know how things work in the USA but there's got to be some administration that specialises in those issues. Contact them and explain the situation to them. Tell them you're very worried about your son's well-being. That's what I'd do.

Since the boy's health might be in jeopardy, there's no time to beat about the bush. It's time for action.

Just my 2 cents. Good luck.
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Old 8th August 2008, 11:25   #5
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I would have made a scene on the spot.

i agree with seer. but if I was you i'd want to do something about it quick.
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Old 8th August 2008, 13:49   #6
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yeah...I'm not easily grossed out by stuff...but that was pretty bad. I'd call her and tell her you want to know how she feels she's providing a healthy environment for your son and what she will do to improve the situation. If she gives a lot of BS (which she prolly will, given what you said about her), and she doesn't clean up her act, then you should say she needs to get help. Then if she doesn't recognize her life needs to change, and she hasn't taken clear steps to change, then mention you're so worried that the next step is to go to the authorities.

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Old 8th August 2008, 13:58   #7
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Another thought: I don't mean this to come across as wrong, but if you don't feel compelled to protect your son's well being (which it sounds like you are--so no need to worry there), then that means you're not that great of a father. But YOU DO CARE...so ACT on your fatherly instincts. So given that: As a father, you owe it to your son to provide a healthy environment. And I know it's difficult being in a situation like this (I don't know if you still have any feelings for your ex wife--but you probably still care).

I wouldn't worry so much about her knowing it was you. If you confront her first (which you should), then it's in her best interest to get professional help.

I guess it's like someone with a psychiatric problem: they need to get help. Most often they don't want to admit it, but deep down they usually know they need help. Sometimes you have to give a bit of a strong *nudge* to get them to accept the help (aka borderline forcing them to/telling the authorities)). Once they get help, they often can be a responsible adult (and thus responsible parent). Obviously on the day you saw your son, she was not being a responsible parent and that NEEDS TO CHANGE..one way or another. Try diplomacy and persuasion...if that doesn't work, then make sure she gets help.

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Old 8th August 2008, 14:12   #8
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And if you're the praying sort...pray before taking any action. You can wait a little while medically before the bad stuff will set in. Those unsanitary situations are much more dangerous for females than males (owing to females being much more prone to getting urinary tract infections due to their MUCH shorter urethra). A bad UTI can kill someone (it's what killed my great aunt...but she was 93--which also had a lot to do with why it overcame her immune system)

Think before you take action, but don't wait too long

However, your son's no longer in diapers I'd say, so the UTI thing wouldn't be as big of a concern.

Probably bacteria entering the body via mouth & nose would be biggest health concern. How old would you say the trash & diaper w/ flies was? More than 1 probably?

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Old 8th August 2008, 17:36   #9
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Thanks for all the advice and you are all right. I've thought about the situation a bit more clearly last night and I feel the same way, that I need to confront her once again about her unsanitary habits and if that doesn't work than I will have no choice but to call an agency to mediate in this.

Although the little girl is not my daughter, it is still a huge concern that any young child is living in this mess. My son has informed me that he would much rather be living with me and I am doing everything that I can to get a two bedroom. I know that if an agency takes the children away from her that the agency would also investigate my living space to make sure it is safe for him as well.

My ex-wife is just that, my ex. I don't have any feelings towards her anymore but I am a bit afraid of her retaliation. When it comes to my experiences with this state and how they handle issues, they always side with the mother as much as possible. Given the fact that I don't have a very 'clean' past myself, with the law that is, I have a feeling that this will come up in any hearing that may come. I have not had any trouble for over 8 years now but I know that won't stop my ex and any lawyers from making it an issue.

Praying is something that I don't do often but I have seen the affects of a strong prayer. I know that it helps and with something like this, I am going to need all the strength I can find.

Thank you all again. No matter how long I have been here or been gone, I've always been able to find good friends with good advice from this forum.

-~MrMagick~-
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Old 8th August 2008, 17:49   #10
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Quote:
My ex-wife is just that, my ex. I don't have any feelings towards her anymore but I am a bit afraid of her retaliation. When it comes to my experiences with this state and how they handle issues, they always side with the mother as much as possible. Given the fact that I don't have a very 'clean' past myself, with the law that is, I have a feeling that this will come up in any hearing that may come. I have not had any trouble for over 8 years now but I know that won't stop my ex and any lawyers from making it an issue.
How big of issues with the law in the past? you can pm me if you'd rather not post it on here. What are we takling about? If you can raise a decent argument that, yes you had an issue IN THE PAST...but you sought help and changed your life for the better, then usually that may often be taken into consideration. You've not had any trouble with the law for as many years as your son has lived, so another argument may be that becoming a father gave you a new perspective and responsibility in life---a responsibility your ex wife apparently doesn't feel (or at least feel the need to act on).

What are your current custody arrangements? Had there been a formal hearing previously to make a custody arrangement? If that's the case, it's more difficult to reverse a previous court decision, but it's not impossible.

I know of tons of cases where the law sides with the father because the mother just really sucks. Also, once a child is around 13, I know they also ask the child which parent they would rather live with. 8 is a bit young for their decision to be considered as significant as an older child's wishes, but it still may also be taken into account.

Another thing I was wondering: Honestly, what would the mom grounding the son have anything to do with sharing custody with you? As the father, unless a previous custody arrangement is in place to prevent this, you have a right to see your child.

Another argument (although pretty weak) that could be made is this: The child is growing with and witnessing a parent with very bad habits. It seems that the mother perhaps doesn't take raising the child as seriously as she should if by age 8 he doesn't know better than to steal. And grounding him for a month is understandable, but using this as a reason to keep him from seeing you is not.

This situation really sucks. You're very welcome for my advice...for whatever it may be worth. Hell...I usually give people my advice whether or not they like it...something I should probably work on...but nvm that

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Old 8th August 2008, 18:07   #11
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When I was 16, I committed 3 felonies which almost landed me in prison as an adult for 15 years. So, yeah, it was pretty bad. However, I had a good lawyer and a good probation officer who all agreed that I would do well in a new program they were trying to advertise or promote. I was sent to 3 months in a juvenile boot camp program. Cleaned up, etc. Makes for a good long story. After that I had one small misdemeanor DUI as an adult. I was barely over the limit. Since then, nothing. I went to a trade school for 18 months. Learned PC repair and graphic design. Took two more years of college and I know work from home as a certified web developer. (Still not that great at it but I manage a pretty good living from it.)

Current custody arrangements were defined by our divorce decree. I get him every other weekend, every other holiday and two weeks in the summer. Problem is that lately I have had to live at my mothers house due to flooding in the apartment building I live in. The Mighty Mississippi decided to fill the basement and shut off our power and gas. So, lately, I have been seeing him 2-3 times a week because they live so close to my mothers and there is no room for him to stay the night here. So, about 4-5 hours on the days that he comes by. I just got him his school supplies to so that gives me a good reason to go back today and check out the place again.

I've been keeping a but of a diary with notes of all these types of situations. He frequently gets dropped off here wearing the same clothes as the day before, dirt feet or no shoes and socks. Smelly feet too! And I mean SMELLY! My mother is going to pick me up a disposable camera while she is working today. We are going to start keeping daily photo's of when he comes over.

As for them grounding him and not coming over here? That was because they just didn't feel like telling him that it was Thursday and he was to come over here. They didn't feel like reminding him about it because they didn't want to have to deal with him having a bit of a tantrum. He never behaves this way around me. He always listens when I ask him to do something. He always helps pick up after himself and he is always happy to help me and his grandmother, (my mother), to do house work or yard work. I think he acts that way around his mother because he isn't afraid of disappointing her anymore.

I am about to head over there now with the school supplies and see how things are. I am hoping that his mom is off to work and I can talk with his Stepdad alone for once. I've never really been able to have a decent conversation with him because of her interfering.

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Old 8th August 2008, 20:14   #12
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Mr. Magic, it's time for you to step up to the plate in a big way. This is your son you're talking about and if he is growing up in the conditions you've described, it is your obligation to intercede on his behalf. Call The Dept. of Social Services immediately. You know you can't change your ex and what do you care if it pisses her off. Even if your son must be temporarily placed in foster care, it is a necessary first step to protect his health and well being.

If your living arrangements make it impossible to raise your son, then it's past time for you to change your living arrangements. Excuses about why you can't are a dime a dozen. Your son should not have to endure living in neglect & squalor another day. You need to do whatever it takes to see that he doesn't.

I say this as a man who raised his son as a single father. If you have the will and the desire, you will not let obstacles stand in your way of doing what is right. You'll either do whatever it takes to provide a home for your son or at the very least you will see that he is placed with someone who will
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Old 8th August 2008, 20:18   #13
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Wow...well that's a pretty rough past to brush off in court.

Did you ever seek psychiatric help that you can document during the time following your run-in with the law?

If you can document that you got help (dunno if the boot camp would qualify for the same consideration as if you got psychiatric help...but it might count for something)--basically using the argument you knew you needed help & got it (even if you were forced into it at the time).

I'd definitely consult a lawyer and ask around the legal circuit for who would be BEST able to win a case like yours. Some lawyers are a lot better than others at certain things--so for something on that magnitude, maybe the average joe, cheapest lawyer wouldn't be the way to go. It will be expensive; unless you have a good lawyer friend who happens to be very good at that sort of thing (and if that's the case, you'd probably have already asked them). You know what I know of someone who used to work for DHS dealing w/ stuff like this. I'll shoot him an email & have him see what he thinks.

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Old 8th August 2008, 23:45   #14
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sorry, but i dont have a clue bout the whole law system in the US but this story sounds pretty sad to me. i really hope it ends well for your son because nobody should have to live under such conditions. so good luck to you, i hope it turns to a good end.
i know this doesnt really help you but i just wanted to wish you luck to get through this well.
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Old 9th August 2008, 00:52   #15
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Quote:
Originally posted by Twilightseer
That story is hard to believe I mean what kind of people find it normal to live surrounded by trash and excrements? There's a serious issue here.
Its not all that hard to believe, I have a friend who never has friends come over because his house is always dirty. All he does is keep his room clean seeing as if he tries to clean the house no one cares and its worse the next day.
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Old 9th August 2008, 03:33   #16
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Good news or not... I went over with the school supplies. The ex and the children were out. I spoke with the Stepfather. He feels the same way I do about this whole thing. Although, he had just woken up and was not all awake yet and was not quite ready to face the situation. I am unsure as to what he will do about what I said.

I have an interview with a national print company tomorrow morning for a Graphic Design position. (Sat, yeah? weird but whatever it takes.) I am hoping that this full-time job would help that much more in affording a better living situation for my son and myself. I agree 100% with Germain. I have waited long enough to do something about this and after speaking with the Stepfather, I am looking up phone numbers of local agencies to step in. Even if my son does go to a foster home, it's sure to be better than where he is now. I've left messages with a local office already and I am anxiously awaiting action. If I don't hear anything by Monday, I have a few more numbers to call.

On the other note of my legal past, I did receive 1.5 years of psychiatric help after my stay in the Boot camp. I am also still on good standing with my old probation officer. I sought him out last week to give him news of what I have been up to and he is very proud of me and very glad that he was there to help me in my teenage years.

What a saga! Maybe I can write a book when this is all done. Or post the whole thing in one long blog to maybe help some other fathers out there.

-~MrMagick~-
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Old 9th August 2008, 05:38   #17
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http://www.google.com/search?q=dcfs

DCFS, aka, department of children and family services, is who you should call. You would want to call the chidl abuse hotline, because the living situation you describe would fall under neglect. Depending on where you live, they should respond quickly enough with a surprise in home visit to the residence. At such time, they will most likely give the parents some time period to straighten out, perhaps put them on probation during which time the child will possibly be monitored, or they will be subject to random inspections. If they fail to improve the situation, then custody would become an issue. As the biological father of the one child, you would most likely, after a battle in court, be awarded full custody of your son. If you were willing, chances are they would also award you full custody of the girl as well because they would prefer to keep the child with already known family, and the foster system is already over crowded.

Unfortunately, this all depends also on the suspect location. If it is in an extremely busy city, like LA, it may take weeks or months for them to take action, if at all. Semetimes these situations go unchecked forever.
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Old 9th August 2008, 10:17   #18
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Lots of people have a "Checkered Past" especially from when they were young. Living proof that you have turned your life around is in the fact you notice and take action on what you see to be deporable living conditions. DSS won't care about your old record, if you are indeed on the good foot. I would take a throw away(or regular camera) and go over, unannounced, and take pictures. It's very important for DSS to see what you've seen. Best of luck to you and your child.
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Old 11th August 2008, 00:17   #19
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I agree with (most) of the advice posted and I have one tidbit to add: now that you have opened Pandora's box, always bring someone along when you go over to your ex-wife's house.
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Old 11th August 2008, 02:18   #20
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Wow...great advice from everyone here! I just wanted to throw in my well wishes. Some people just aren't born with parental instincts and when another life is involved, action needs to be taken. I commend you on taking action!

Best of luck!
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Old 11th August 2008, 14:20   #21
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You are a great, responsible parent. I spoke with someone who retired from working child abuse cases with the DHS here in the USA (the equivalent of the agency you are communicating with where you live), and he said that here in the USA (and presumably, a similar protocol where you are living) they consider several things:

1.) Who can provide the child with the best future?
(your past will be mentioned in any proceedings, but if you can demonstrate AT THE PRESENT TIME the child's best interests would be living with you), they should side with you

Yes, there are occasionally messed up situations where the agency does not keep the child's best interest in mind...but those instances are rare. Yes, generally, if both parents are EQUALLY good potential parents, they tend to side with the mother...however if there's evidence the father is better, most judges will have no issue with awarding custody to the better parent. Your legal PAST should be considered, but if you can prove it has no bearing on your PRESENT responsibility, it shouldn't matter.

2.) (a sub-set of the above category): can you currently support the child's well-being? Granted, if you no longer need to pay child support, your finances will be even better able to support your son's well-being.

3.) Where are your priorities? Would the child be a priority in your life? (obviously yes, in your case). If your priorities were running around club hopping, banging prostitutes, or doing drugs, that's the sort of stuff that could classify the father as a dead-beat dad. You obviously do not fall under this category.

To summarize the points they would be considering (here in the USA, at least (where he worked)): The question the agency should be considering: WHAT IS IN THE CHILD'S BEST INTEREST, and HOW CAN THIS BE ACCOMPLISHED?

When I mentioned some of the details of the story, his reply was, "that's f*cked up."
He retired from the DHS because the child abuse cases he was getting was having a very bad impact on his psychological well-being. He's now a mobile DJ owner, but he faithfully served the DHS for many years and earned many plaques and awards on his wall for his service there.

He was reluctant, at first, to get any of the details (to avoid bringing back bad memories from the really bad cases he worked). We were working a DJ gig together this weekend, so that's when I talked to him about this. I originally emailed him this, but he wouldn't read the forum post. But when I was working with him at the gig, he agreed to give some generic advice as long as I just told him the basic facts about you (Magick) and just what sort of things would qualify the mother as a bad mother. Basically long as I left out the graphic details.

He was wondering how old you are now. I told him I estimated you were around 25 years old, but I wasn't sure.

Since you are a direct, biological relative to the child, that makes you normally the first "pick" the DHS will consider when awarding custody/deciding where the child will live. They will only go to foster care or alternate situation IF both parents are concluded as incapable of raising the child. A disclaimer that he hasn't worked with DHS in probably over 20 years (I dont' know exactly when he retired from it...it might be around 30 years)


----------------------------------------------------------

Correction: For some reason, I thought you were in the UK...no idea how I got that idea.

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Old 11th August 2008, 14:25   #22
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Quote:
Originally posted by MrMagick


I have an interview with a national print company tomorrow morning for a Graphic Design position. (Sat, yeah? weird but whatever it takes.) I am hoping that this full-time job would help that much more in affording a better living situation for my son and myself.

How did the interview go?


Quote:
Originally posted by MrMagick


On the other note of my legal past, I did receive 1.5 years of psychiatric help after my stay in the Boot camp. I am also still on good standing with my old probation officer. I sought him out last week to give him news of what I have been up to and he is very proud of me and very glad that he was there to help me in my teenage years.

If you can provide legal, written documentation of this, it would be advisable to bring that with you to any court appearances and have this available any time you are communicating with the agencies who would be dealing with your son's case. Be sure to make lots of copies and keep some at home, while taking several copies of each with you at all times. Names & contact info of all doctors & your probation officer would also be helpful.

I'd keep copies of that stuff paperclipped together in a 3-ring notebook you'd take with you.

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Old 14th August 2008, 08:34   #23
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As a school employee, I am a "mandated reporter" of such things, and I worked with CSB (Child Services Bureau as it's called in Ohio and South Dakota where I have worked as a teacher and guidance counselor), dozens of times. In every case, although sometimes complicated, the needs of the child were much better met once the call was made. These people are extremely well educated, work with situations like these every day for a living, and realize that each case involves someone's son/daughter.

I agree with just about everything posted above, but most importantly the posts saying that you must take action immediately. When I have even a suspicion that someone was housing one of my students in those conditions I would immediately call - because if I didn't (as a mandated reporter), believe it or not, it could come back on me and I (or the school district) could be sued for neglecting to take action. They have all the right questions to ask while working with you and will help determine what kinds of actions should be taken.

My advice:

1.) Make the call - if you don't know the number, call the local police and ask.
2.) Document everything - pictures, accounts of what happened, correspondence with authorities and the ex, witness accounts of what is going on, etc. Never give or share original documents unless required - always give copies and keep originals. Remember - if it's not on paper, it didn't happen. Borrow a camera with video and videotape what you described or at least use your disposable for pictures. Store all copies of documentation in a separate place from originals if you suspect/predict possible theft of evidence.
3.) Keep your place tip-top. They may inspect it unannounced.
4.) Have your paystubs and any other possible proof that you'd be a good custodial parent available.
5.) Cooperate with authorities respectfully, even if they have to do something that may not seem 'in the best interest' at the time. Sometimes you have to take a step back before you can take a couple steps forward.
6.) Accept emotions but do not let them harm your better judgment. These situations can become rough.
7.) Keep your head up. You've already done the most important part - found a willingness to make change for the better. Now it's time to make it happen.

Don't forget to live before you die.
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Old 17th August 2008, 17:02   #24
MrMagick
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Interview went good, moving out of town into a two bedroom hopefully in the next couple of weeks. Ex is still messy but I did hear that someone came to visit them and I'm still waiting to hear how that went. Thanks for all the advice. I'm hoping this works out because I can't wait to see my son grow up to be a healthy, happy young man. Well, maybe I can wait a little longer to see him grow up ...

-~MrMagick~-
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Old 17th August 2008, 20:35   #25
Jkey
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I hope things continue to get better.

So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish.
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Old 18th August 2008, 03:19   #26
BenderRodriguez
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i just registered and saw this thread.Man it sucks what you and your kid are going through,i had a similar problem with my first wife too,but even worse she became a lesbian like 4 years ago,actually that's not the real problem,her girlfriend is the problem.They had been living together for a year or so when i found out her GF was a crackhead.She even sold some of my kids toys to get her dope,and when she was high she became extremely violent.

As a result my child became very depressed and i brought him to live at my house a year and a half ago.She was also a messy person,very unclean and with no good higiene habits whatsoever.I can only advice you this:Get your kid out of there soon,no matter what you have to do to get this done,he'll be so much better with you.People like your Ex,or my Ex NEVER CHANGE,they just don't care about the basic care of a child.

Hope everything works out good for you and your kid.
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Old 18th August 2008, 06:55   #27
swingdjted
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Keep us updated with what's going on - This is one of those things that are real-life "cliffhangers". We all want things to get better, but hate not knowing what happens next.

Don't forget to live before you die.
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Old 18th August 2008, 16:10   #28
cmountford
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Glad to hear the interview went well.

Yes, please keep us updated!

I hope things continue to improve.

I'm a DJ. You can DL my mixes free from my website: www.djcmount.com

You have the right to refrain from posting unless you write in the "rap battles" thread. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court by mods.
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