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This week’s dilemma is as follows:

You and your husband are getting a divorce. You have a 10 year old child together, and you have every intention of getting custody of him.

Your husband also wants the child, and he threatens to reveal parts of your past that you would rather not have out in the open.

You had an affair a few years ago, and it nearly destroyed your marriage at the time. Also, you’re a recovering alcoholic, who’s been sober for over three years now. The thing is, about thirteen years ago, whilst you were driving under the influence of alcohol, you ran into, and accidentally killed a little boy. You served some time for it, but nobody outside your immediate family knows what you did.

You’re terrified of it all coming out in the open, but you are desperate to keep your child with you.

What do you do? Do you give in to your husband, and let him have full custody, with visitation rights, or do you fight for your child regardless of what may be revealed?

18 Comments »

  • You fight for your child. Yes, you might lose, but at least your child will know you loved him enough to brave all that nastiness and fight for him.

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  • What Lolita Lopez said. Your child is more important than your reputation.

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  • I’m probably going to buck the trend here.

    I’ve seen a variety of families where I truly believe the mother should never have had custody of the child/children and that custody should have gone to the father.

    In this instance – unless the father is mentally or physically abusive – I would side with the father. He’s the one who’s been holding it together through her alcoholism, her affair etc, and I’m sure the kid full well knows that too.

    But there are many more things to be considered than what is outlined above. While at first glance, his threats seem very manipulative, we don’t know any of her previous behaviour while under the influence (well I guess we do – the affair and being drunk and in charge of a child) to know if he is super determined to make sure the child is safe, or if he’s just being a manipulating bastard…

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  • I have to go along with Anne on this one. I want to know more about what kind of parents they are and the fathers motivation for wanting custody. Is it because he’s just out to ‘get’ the mother or is it love and concern for the child.
    But I don’t think either one seem to be thinking of the best interests of the child. The thing to do is to put personal feelings aside and work their little butts of to try and get along and share custody. A child needs both mother and father.

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  • I’m sorry but has this poor woman made a good choice yet? If it did come down to a custody battle things do not look good for her at all.

    Maybe that was where he is going to reveal all this. In that case he has every right to and I am not so sure she is what I would call a good parent.

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  • Not enough information to make a good response as Anne pointed out. Sounds like the father might be the more responsible parent in this situation.

    On the personal side however: anyone ever tried to keep my kid away from me and that person would be carrion meat on the side of the road with the rats waiting to have them for dessert.

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  • Since the question is what I would do, I would fight to my last breath to keep my child. If it happens that the court doesn’t feel that I am the best parent then my child would know that I gave everything for him/her. I want my child to know I loved them enough to fight for them.

    If this was a third party I would not rush to give the Dad custody especially since he feels that it’s okay to threaten the mother of his child with public humiliation by throwing her past (and let’s focus on that… Her Past) in her face. She is recovering alcoholic who has been sober for three years.. kudos to her, and it appears she has been working hard to get her act together (her affair was several years ago) so I would not dismiss her ability to care for her child.

    I know if it was me I would fight him tooth and nail (I would especially make sure I have his threat of public humiliation recorded someplace so that I could prove him to be quite underhanded).

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  • Anon76
    June 19
    2:11 pm

    Not enough info on both parties.

    However, the threat is a bit worrisome. Who is to say he won’t use the same tactic again and again whenever he wants his way. Best to go to court and get everything out in the open and legally binding.

    Plus, the affair thing is a non-issue in most courts. (At least in the US.) The husband decided to continue the marraige after finding out about her infidelity. He’d have to prove a current affair in order to use it against her at this phase.

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  • FD
    June 19
    2:38 pm

    Not enough info.
    And while obviously, the mother has a disquieting past, the sheer nastiness of that threat makes me think that the husband is no prize either. I would be deeply unhappy about leaving a child in his care.

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  • MB (Leah)
    June 19
    3:21 pm

    Give him up but make sure with everything I have that he knows that I love him. And I’d certainly fight for all my visitation rights and make sure all lines of communication were open to him with me.

    I wouldn’t be worried about my rep as much as what all that coming out and the scandal of it might do to the emotional state of my child. I think it would be more harmful to him than me.

    Although I do question the character of the father in this case, I don’t know enough about his character from this scenario.

    I was a child of a nasty ass divorce in which both parents used us kids a pawns to get at each other. I would never, ever do that to one of my kids. I had to endure my parents screaming and fighting loud enough for all the neighbors to hear and it was humiliating on top of all the distress of my parents bringing up every little effing nasty thing each one did to each other in the past. Things no kid should ever have to hear about a parent’s behavior.

    So, I’d have to give him up.

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  • Myra Luz
    June 19
    3:26 pm

    We have a DIL who is bi-polar and refuses to take her meds. She can be sweet as pie one minute and a raving loon the next. One of the authors for whom I edit also has a DIL like that and has told me really scary tales of her rying to burn down the house, leaving a 4 month old baby alone to go to Wal-Mart, falsely accusing her husband of beating her even when a neighbor saw her slamming her face with her own hands. In our DIL’s case, she also ran over someone but luckily the person survived. She’s totaled two cars in three years. It’s a wonder she HASN’T killed someone.

    Yes, maybe the woman in your scenario has turned her life around but what’s to say she won’t start drinking again? If she does, what’s to say she won’t have her child in the car with her?

    I think the husband has every right to try to protect his child and if that means revealing his wife’s past, so be it. I don’t see it as nastiness on his part. Obviously he tried to make a go of the marriage or he wouldn’t have taken her back after the affair. Then there’s the matter of keeping quiet about the driving incidence. Sometimes, though, enough is enough.

    There is more to the situation than just what was revealed in the scenario so it would be hard to say she shouldn’t get custody. My gut reaction is she shouldn’t.

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  • Las
    June 19
    5:37 pm

    Not enough info. Best case scenario, I’d actually rather avoid a custody trial at all costs. Sounds like a traumatic experience all around. If the father is actually a good father, if I can trust him to share custody…then I would have no problem with letting him have primary custody. It’s not even an issue of my skeletons being let out of the closet, I just don’t think that, all things being equal, it’s necessarily better for a child to live with mother instead of his father. And frankly, 3 years sober doesn’t sound like very long to me. The father sounds like he’s a much more stable parent.

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  • Ebony
    June 19
    5:40 pm

    If my husband is the better parent then I would make sure I got visitation because my child’s daily welfare is more important than my ego. If I feel however that I am the better parent as a caregiver, etc, then I will take a chance on folks finding out about my past. Any court of law would have records of the time I served anyway.

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  • If it was me, I’d fight for my child, no matter what.

    However, in this case-I’m not certain the child would be better with the mom. It sounds like the father has his act together.

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  • Sam
    June 19
    7:26 pm

    I want to know more too. I’ve already told my husband that if we divorce, he gets the twins. Why? Because while I would immediately drop to the poverty level, he will maintain middle/upper middle class status. That would be best for my kids.

    It is also the reason he’ll never divorce me:) Well, that and with his health problems the only women that would take him as is are probably abso-fuckn-lutely NUTS.

    Sam

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  • U.S. Courts are supposed to look at the best interests of the child for custody. So should both parents.

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  • Louise van Hine
    June 20
    3:15 am

    there’s no use fighting for the kid. A criminal conviction of that kind would probably prejudice a jury in a knock-down custody action anyway. Try to negotiate a shared custody situation and guilt the guy into letting you see the kid as frequently as possible, and you can always argue for more liberal visiting. You’re the mother, for god’s sake. But don’t fight the custody thing. Having been in several custody tugs-of-war it is always bad for the kids.

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  • Marianne McA
    June 20
    3:45 pm

    If I felt I was the best parent to have custody, I’d try for that, no matter what would come into the open.
    If I (from the father’s pov) had to reveal private things about my partner to the court, in order to get given custody, I’d feel entitled to do that.
    (Don’t think it would become public knowledge: I think family court hearings are more private than that.)

    At ten, the child might have a preference – in the only case I knew a bit like this, the child had his own solicitor, and the court went to some pains to try to ascertain his opinions (while making sure that those opinions were genuinely his own, uninfluenced by the parent with whom he was currently living.)

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