Q: I was listed in someone else's custody order out of spite and wasn't informed. What can I do?
I have been dating someone for 18 months. 6 months into our relationship, his soon to be ex-wife, (who had met me and approved of me spending time with her kids and has full custody of them) decided she wanted to be with him again and stopped allowing the visitations she had previously allowed and placed in her custody agreement that he can not have the kids anywhere near me. Her kids love me and have kept contact (but never in person anymore) with me and my kids. They had grown very close. I was never officially informed and this was done purely vindictively as she has no issues with me before and I can provide proof of that. My partner is putting in a motion and their divorce is underway. He will have split custody if all goes well. Is there anything I can do in the interim? I was a behavior assistant at the time, working exclusively with children, and had this information become public (that I was a 'danger' to kids) this could have affected my work or my custody of my own kids.
A: You are not going to like my answer. This is an issue between your boyfriend and his wife as part of their divorce. I have no idea why the wife has decided that she does not want you to be with their children at this point in time but your boyfriend has the right to oppose same and to ask the court for assistance. There is case law in NJ addressing overnight guests in the presence of children during the pendency of a divorce, suggesting that parents need to be responsible in how they introduce their children to new relations and that generally speaking, it should be handled slowly to ensure that the children can properly process what is taking place. The fact that your children may handle it well does not mean that her view is right or wrong. What needs to be fleshed out is why did she have a change of heart. Believe it or not, she simply may have thought that there was a chance that they could get back together and to help in that process, she wanted you out of the equation. As I said, I dont know what is at the heart of her actions and most likely the court will direct the parties to participate in mediation to discuss a parenting time plan and who can and cannot be involved with the children today and when that setting can change.
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