An offer he can't refuse?


I have been seriously contemplating "offering" my ex-husband and the father of my DD, freedom from his "paternal" ties to our DD.

Some here may have seen a few postings, maybe not... long story short, my DD's father has been in and out of rehab and jail (he alternates between the two.. has had very little time "free"), in several different states (not allowed back to Tennessee) since my DD's birth. It all started when we got married and I noticed his drug problem (pain killers.. MAJOR addiction).

Along with all this; he has never been forced to pay child support, has thousands in arrears, and our child support division here just doesn't follow up with anything or enforce it; that is Kentucky for you.

He doesn't work when he is out of jail/rehab; he disappers for weeks on end, only comes home for a few hours during the every-other-weekend "limited supervised visitations" at his parents house.

His parents are hard working people in a middle class neighborhood... nice folks, if not altogether strange. They have NO rules for my DD while she is there and they flat out told me recently they will never ever question their son; they say he has been this way "forever" and there is nothing they can do to help him except let him come and go for food and a place to sleep if he needs it.

He disappeared last year for two solid months (TN) and was jailed on theft charges and drug traffiking charges (both felonies) then was extradited back to KY to await trial HERE for jumping $80k bond.

That isn't the worst of him, however. He is a pathological liar; I mean in the worst sense. He has been caught in so many lies, he lies to cover up lies, he makes up these whoppers and truly believes they are real.

He has had seizures due to overdosing on the pills, caused car wrecks, has DUI's, etc.

Recently he called me screaming in the middle of the night (in his what I like to call "drug voice"), stating he was going to remove my rights as a mother, take DD away from me to punish me for calling this place he said he worked at. He told everyone he was working and making lots of money. Well naturally I thought he should pay child support; when I called this place they knew nothing of him.

So his retaliation was to bluff me and threaten me, basically scare the cr@p out of me. He tried to kidnap her last February, by forcibly removing her from his parents; his dad called me late and night and said, "we stopped him but we thought you should know".

Last year, I asked a child support lawyer (mealy little freebie lawyer for that division) what I could "do" to get his rights taken away for my DD's safety. I have had to live with this fear over my head since her birth.

This lawyer told me you cannot do this to any person. He said, in order to have parental rights removed, the person has to walk into court and sign the papers in front of the judge; it has to be totally voluntary.

This lawyer told me that even tho the father of my child is a felon, in jail, on drugs, elusive and won't comply with baic laws, he is still a "father" and "has paternal rights to this child".

My exhusband is money hungry... the things he did in TN showed everyone that. He admitted he made several thousand on the street last year by selling Vicodin, OxyContin, and Percocet.

My deal is this:

I want to offer him cash, freedom from child support (not that it is enforced), drop the arrears... if he will sign a paper a lawyer has drawn up surrendering his rights to DD.

Yes he will wind up back in jail anyway, I know that. But will it be AFTER he kidnaps DD, perhaps while stoned out of his mind, harming her or killing her? I do not want my innocent DD to grow up thinking it is NORMAL for a daddy to be in jail and on drugs! She has been told not to go alone with him, she has been warned by everyone about daddy's "little white pills"...

I know he wants his freedom, he hates this state, he wants to leave. If I gave him thousands of dollars and "freed" him from this awful bond that he never wanted (DD... he considers it awful, I consider it a blessing), he may do it, as long as his mother doesn't step in.

Should I consider making this offer, or will it strain things even more? DD has been growing up without a father figure for her 5 years on this earth, and it will only become worse as her father's addictions go untreated. My main concern is, I don't want him around her in any fashion, he has harmed everyone in some way. I worry to death about my DD's safety.

- darkeyedgirl

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I'm so sorry to hear you and your daughter have to go through all of that. Do you have full legal custody? I wouldn't offer him any cash, you'll need it for your daughter if you plan to raise her alone. For one thing (for him) it won't be enough, he'd probably try to bargain for more, he'll spend it on drugs, and when he runs out of money he might be back. Just give him the option to sign off. He should be grateful just to be relieved of his arrears in child support. I wish you and your daughter the best.

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By cash offer, you meant he can keep his, not you're giving him any, right?

I think if he'll agree, it would be cut the loose strings you have to deal with now. Your daughter isn't getting anything from him anyway. My concern for you is the grandparents. Do you plan to continue their role in your daughter's life, or do the go out with the father? If that is what they fear, they would probably fight it and/or encourage their son to fight it. But if they have some real assurance that they will still see their granddaughter, even if it is a legal agreement on visitation, they might support your decision. Afterall, you spoke well of their relationship with your daughter. You did say they stopped their son from taking her, which was probably hard for them since they don't seem to have stopped him from doing anything else in his life.

I think very good for you, good for you daughter, just be open with the grandparents so you have them as an ally not an enemy.

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It sounds like a judgement call and it may not be a good idea for you to offer anything like that.

If he has (in his head) different 'roles' for everyone and an understanding of the patterns of communication he has with you and with others involved, he may not be able to accept any offer from you (even if it seems like something he wants; even if he's said he wanted it he might need to reject the offer simply because of the source).
Try consulting with social workers, or child protection/ child advocacy services too. Describe your child's situation with reference to the respective parents. Ask them if there is anything that can be done to protect her from him and his influence. (It might not require him volunteering to sign over parental rights. There might be other things that could be done too.)

The main problem of offers like that is that they look bad simply by being offered. You might be perfect in all respects, but even making such an offer will tend to look awful if there are any further custody 'issues' in court.

Child protection services, children's advocacy or legal services, even your pediatrician might be able to help with advice about what options may exist. A child support lawyer wouldn't have the same mandate to protect your daughter that the children's services people would.

It sounds too potentially messy and unpredictable to really do anything personally, single-handedly. His parents sound like they have gone out of their way to inform you of things they didn't have to; but felt they should. They might be 'normal' and stable enough to be considered safe and to have a relationship with your daughter which is healthy for her. It sounds like your ex is unstable in a way that could cause her harm (even if he did not intend that). It also sounds like his parents and your ex have gotten to the point where they can co-exist somewhat peacefully. That may have required that his parents allow him, like nearly all adults, to be in charge of his day to day life and activities. (What could they do? At least by maintaining the minimum they can 'enable' him to live. He is probably still on his own with his illegal activities.) If he wants to change his self-image and life orientation and goals; and act in ways to reinforce those... and if those include being a 'responsible' parent to your daughter that has to be a decision he commits to. There are often complicating factors, like mood disorders or cognitive disorders, or even learning disorders which can co-exist with drug dependency. They would all need his decision and will to change, and professional attention and support for treatment to even have a hope of being effective. You and your daughter need to be more concerned with protecting yourselves than with how to get him to change (he, and only he is in charge of that).

The thing about child support is that it is his responsibility to your daughter and between them. She has a right to it simply because she is alive and because he was her biogenetic father under certain applicable circumstances. You would have to weigh whether or not there were other, or better options. The arrears and future child support though are her birthright. If he were willing to sign off on parental rights then it might be fair to end future child support (after he signs). The arears though seem like they should be more clearly between him and her (she may decide to drop it when she is legally able to speak for herself, or that it's not worth pursuing; but she might not). Let a lawyer, or some other professional intermediary draw up any offer though and let that person present it. Keep things formal and with you and your shared daughter at a distance... but do weigh whether he might respond unpredictably in a bad way.

communicating with someone when there is mutual animosity and/or tendencies to misunderstand or argue is usually a good way to make a bad situation worse; be careful

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I agree, maybe offering him cash won't lead to anything except him spending it on drugs and then hounding you for more. What's to stop him from trying to take her again? And while she's at her grandparents - he has tried it once. If he tries it again, will they stop him? If he's high on drugs, CAN they stop him? I don't mean to scare you, but I agree with amygdala, he could act in an unpredictable manner. You can't sue him for the money? My dad owed several thousand and my mom took the matter to court (before she had just been too nice and let it happen) But that was in the state of Ohio. Usually when it comes to child support issues and deadbeat dads, the courts are more than willing to go after this guy. I am shocked that the 'child support lawyer' wasn't willing to offer more help. I suggest, if you want to get another lawyer, to get a female, because they are usually tougher when it comes to these issues, generally speaking.

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I'm not sure when you said offer him cash, if you really meant you were giving him money. WEll don't do it. if he ever comes to his senses, which sounds impossible, he may be able to go back to court and say that he was bribed, coerced etc. into signing the relinquishing of parental rights and ask a judge to make the relinquishing void. Courts always ask did you sign these papers voluntarily, and he can claim he didn't.
Relinquishing parenatl rights DOES give up his obligation of paying any future support, but I don't think it can erase any arrears. All child support is mandatory even if the receiving parent wants it our not, it is the child's money.
My ex-husband had a child from a previous relationship, and he gave up his parental rights to her (even though I told him it was the stupidest thing to do, just so he didn't have to pay) and he still has to pay back all the arears, but no future support. However each state is different and I don't know what legallity there is to him signing a a a paper saying he does not have to pay arrears, but I'm sure your atty will be able to tell you.
And I know this sounds horrible but if you happen to qualify for public assistance, go get on it, it's the back door way of getting him to pay. In most states if you are on public aid and the father is not paying child support, they will go after him with the state's own money and resources to get reimbursed, figuring if he was paying you child support then you would not need assistance. So basically its like they are being the middle man for him paying you, although I know they don't see it that way. I don't condone this(nor do I do it) but if you live in a state that does not enforce child support, beat them at their own game! I know you don't want the money, but just to sever the ties, but I had to throw that in, because it is soo unorthodox. HA!


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A note on Tami's suggestion about linking into the state money as a way to get him to pay up: In a lot of states, the state will get its OWN money back first, including penalties, etc., and very little of it will come to you.

I agree that making the offer to him could backfire on you. If I remember right, Christie Brinkley's most recent ex (Jack Taubman, I think? Jack something) told her he'd give up his parental rights for a large sum of money, and her lawyer took the offer into court as evidence that he should have his custody greatly curtailed or eliminated, and Christie won.

You've got other things going for you in a custody dispute, though, so the damage wouldn't be a large. But the danger is there.

Frankly, I think you're being a little dense to be worried by any threat of him legally taking the child away. Get real! Would any court in the entire country give him custody? First of all, there's nothing wrong w/ you, and the child has been solely in your custody, and courts don't like to mess with a child's stability. Second, he's a criminal and an a$$hole, no one's going to give him even partial custody of a kid. He's blowing off a$$hole steam, and you should blow HIM off (and get an unlisted phone number, and insist the grandparents hide it from him). There's no threat there--none. You're not thinking clearly at all if you allow it to bother you. (also, do you really think he's got the mental competence or coordination to follow through on such a threat? He'll make one visit in fired-up anger to a lawyer's office, and be off on a drug binge, and the matter will stop there. He won't be able to pay a lawyer to bring a court action, so no lawyer is going to follow through on it)

In fact, I think you should present the child-custody court with the evidence from the grandparents of his attempt to take your daughter away from their house, and that they stopped him. I think you could make a case that this is proof that the "limited supervision visitation" should cease. Also, any evidence that he is ever high or unstable during these visits should also be gathered and presented. He can't behave even then, so he shouldn't have these visitations.

Of course, this might also mean your daughter couldn't see her paternal grandparents unless the dad was provably out of town or in jail.

The threat exists only in his illegally taking the child. He's not competent enough to succeed for very long; you'd find them. But of course "in the meantime" would be a bad thing, so you want to prevent it. Which brings me to my next point.

It seems like the bigger issue is your daughter's relationship with the grandparents. While she's at their house, she's exposed to her dad. They may see that as a good thing, but it's clearly become a danger to her in her father's threats, and they clearly know that--they alerted you to the danger themselves. I agree that threatening to cut off THEIR connection to their granddaughter could turn them into considerable opponents, so I'd suggest you go to lengths to assure them this is not your goal. And to work out ways they can see her without exposing your daughter to her dad.

Another thought: Even if you get him to sign away his parental rights, you won't remove the danger. He'll still be an AH, and he'll still make this threat from time to time.

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You all are so right, thank you for the advice, especially the cash offer. Yes I was thinking of waving thousands in front of his face (by selling my car and buying another one) just to get him to go, because money and drugs is all that matters to this man. He cares nothing for his parents, him self, and above all, his daughter. She has been a burden on him since day 1.

However, after reading these posts, I see what you mean, he may take it as a payoff, which could backfire on me.

Maui: I do NOT have full legal custody. In our decree it states I have "sole physical custody", meaning, DD will always LIVE with me in MY home. Then it states "joint legal custody", which goes onto state that the father will have a 50/50 say in her health care (even tho it states he will never, ever have to pay for ANY medical treatments or insurance coverage), her schooling (even tho it states he will never have to help with school fees) and "general upbringing".

I do not want to keep DD from her paternal grandparents. I have VERY fond memories of MY paternal grandparents... my father was "there" but completely, totally uninterested in me (he still is and doesn't like us coming around). My dad's parents were my best friends... much like DD's paternal g-parents. I would never dream of denying her a love like that.

Tami ... I cannot qualify for public assistance, no way in lleh!!! I make over $40k a year (NO college degree... just tenacity, ambition, and I LOVE TO WORK!), I own my own home, etc. To give all that up just to do this, would be ludicrous. Trust me I have thought about what it would be like to STOOP to his level; to not wanna work, to live either with my parents or in some crappy subsidized housing somewhere, and the thought makes me ill. DD and I have a great life and a very nice home, and when I accepted WIC for the first year of her life (I had to... her father moved out and I was left with a SLEW of his bills, and to keep my credit A+, I had to pay them so it left me kinda broke) I felt awful when I cashed in those vouchers.

This is terrible but when I'd use those WIC vouchers, I would get trashy looks from the gals at the grocery. I was not some welfare-mom who was toting 9 kids and didn't know what birth control was, yet I got the looks. When my salary rose up and WIC was cancelled, I was relieved.

Talley Sue (thanks for your long response btw): You aren't the first to call me "dense and worried" over this. I swear when he tried to take her last year it was the worst weekend of my life. I spent two days vomiting I was so upset over what "almost" happened. I KNOW I just need to do what I can do, meaning, keep up on the Child Support summons, and make sure his parents are "watching him", even tho they said they won't interfere with his "problems" any more... but I cannot help but to be worried.

He doesn't have the stability to follow through on the idea of removing my custody or "legally" removing DD from me... but his parents are SO behind him and think I'm the anti-christ for keeping tabs on him. They used to really respect me and his mother was very friendly, but since his release from prison in October (during this free time he managed to knock up his second wife, who is a 20 year old girl with two kids by two different fathers...), they have been at odds with me.

I pray every night that he does himself in. I know that is bad, to wish that upon someone, but I'd rather it be him then my DD or his parents or someone else. He is the one who deserves to worry and suffer... not DD or anyone else.

Yer right Talley Sue, he will always be around, I fear. I know he wants to leave KY and he wants his 'freedom' away from everyone here who has 'harmed' him, but he cannot make it in this world without his mother's support.

At least DD and I are very close. I make sure of that. Among all the disciplining and rules I set in my house, we have a very strong love and she listens to me like you'd not believe. I hope in time she will see just what her father is... do you think she WILL? As a teenager, or as an adult? Or even when she gets into grade school???

- darkeyedgirl

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darkeyedgirl (((hugs))) I know that you know that there is very little chance that you would ever lose custody but I know that it must be in the back of your mind. I can't even imagine what it would be like to worry the way that you worry about what he may do to your daughter to get back at you.

HEre is my advice. They (his mother included in this) are using your fear to a keep you afraid. There is no way in he!! that they will take away your custody unless they could prove you an unfit mother. But they keep this fear installed in you that they could provide a more stable home blah blah blah. Judges do not like to take children away from their mothers unless there is a reason to (ie drug problem, neglect, etc) You make a decent salary for a single mother, you have been a part of your daughters life from the beginning and you are stable. They won't take her. They know this or they would have pursued it before this. If I were you I would stop letting them think they are getting to you. They see the fear in your eyes when they mention court.. so take that away. If they say it again just make it look like it doesn't bother you.. tell them "well my lawyer doesn't see it that way" and walk away. When he calls you and tells you he is going to have your parental rights taken away etc.. just talk calmly to him and tell him that your lawyer says he can't do that because they could never prove you unfit but tell him that this kind of talk is not productive. I believe that men should support their children but if that is what is causing you to have to go through this (because he is ticked off at having to pay child support) then I would probably drop it just for the safety of my child. Don't keep tabs on him and don't worry what he is doing. It's a head game for him to play these games with you. If he didn't think it got to you he wouldn't do it. He's her father and he is a part of her life one way or the other and unless he signs away his rights that is not going to change but if you make him an offer to not pay child support or by trying to give him money he can put you in a bad light in court (if he chose to) and I doubt that his parents would allow him to do it anyway no matter how much he wanted the money. I feel so bad that you have to go through this and I would be so scared if I was in your shoes but the best advice I can give you is to not tick him off and to just let him go as far as enforcing child support.

It's amazing how the decent guys get it stuck to them by the court system and the sleazy ones get away with anything :( I strongly believe that all men should pay child support.. I am only telling you to let it go if you fear that your daughter life may be in danger because of it.

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darkeyed girl:

I have been following this very closely. I agree with others on NOT offering him money, etc and I didn't really have anything to add that others had not already said. I am sorry you are having to live this way. Please accept my sympathies. I know that there is nothing I can do to help you directly, but hope that my wishes make you feel at least a little better.

I am responding to your last question about whether your daughter will see him for what he is. YES! She will see him for what he is. I don't know when. But-it is important that you do not do anything to appear to be interfering with her relationship with him. If she finds out as a teen that it was YOU who paid him to go away she may place a large amount of the blame for the failure of their relationship at your doorstep. We all know it doesn't belong there, but teens sometimes interpret things in a way that is different from either a child or an adult. And it might affect her negatively to know that her own father cared so little about her that he could be paid to be kept away from her.

Good luck to you and your daughter.


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I just had to add that I agree with what is being said. And let you know your DD WILL see the "sperm donor" for what he is. My DD's "sperm donor" (he was never a father or a daddy), signed papers for DH to adopt DD. DH was always daddy (Even through the terrible teen years - she was in counseling for a while and the counselor asked if she wanted to meet her Bio father, she said no, DH was her dad! - I almost cried)

Low and behold DD turns 18 and guess who now wants to be a part of her life (I'll give you three guesses and the first two don't count!). He offered to pay for her schooling, and buy her a new car. He wanted to see her on "his time" calling at the last minute to meet her, etc. He'd show up at her work (she'd go in a room in tears because of nerves). I told her if she accepted his gifts, she was accepting a relationship with him. She couldn't use him and discard him. She chose not to accept the gifts, and he hasn't called her since. He never sent cards at birthdays, etc after they'd met. Bottom line is that yes she saw him for what he was, and on her own, I didn't intrude there. She is now pregnant and I asked if she was going to tell him, her response...he!! no, not after the stuff he did to her (dropping in to her life when it was convienent for him).

Your DD will see him for what he is. The hard part is to not "bad mouth" him. Be very neutral on how you talk about him.


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I tell you, it is so hard to keep my mouth shut about him. More than once DD has seen me crying because of something her sperm-donor has done (good label for him).

I have said bad things about him, and I have promised myself to stop. I will never, ever say he is a good dad or a nice person, cuz he's not. I suppose I just won't say a darn thing.

I just hate how she looks up to him, adores him, etc., because when he does show up for those every-other-weekend visitations at his parents house, he is strung out, asleep all weekend (DD tells me this), OR he complains to ME if she happens to be tired or sick.

I have slim hopes that I'll get married again so that DD could have a 'real, full time' father. It is my hope that this can someday happen because I feel that if there was a step-father in her life, someone who she could REALLY "brag" about and adore, the sperm-donor would disappear for good, and his parents might wake up and realize what a bad father he is.

I really wish to have your happy situation Vickey... a "DH adopting my DD". Sometimes I feel like Kirstie Alley in that movie "Look Who's Talking"... remember that one?

- darkeyedgirl

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I can't really address any of the issues except the "will she see him for what he is?" one.

My mother was a different version of the same type of parent. Took off when I was 8. Was never there for ANYTHING, etc. etc. Never paid support, yadda yadda . . .

For the first couple of years I wanted her back and had this idealized view of having her in my life. Fast forward 20 years. I don't talk to her and don't want her in my life.

I definitely think your daughter will see his true colors, but I can tell you she will have to learn on her own (that is a lesson that truly sucks to learn, but you can neither teach it to her nor learn it for her). One of the best things I think my father did was to never say anything good or bad about my mother. I respect him to no end for that because he really could have said a LOT!!

Hang in there!

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Can you get full legal custody?

And even though his folks won't interfere with how he lives HIS life or with HIS problem (they're smart; they couldn't do anything if they tried, frankly), they DO interfere when danger to their GD rises--not only did they stop him taking her away, but they alerted you to the danger.

It's too bad you've become estranged from them. They could be your allies in helping your DD get through those visits with her dad. Probably it's important for her sake that they happen, if only because it'll eventually keep her from romanticizing him--she'll start to see that he's whiny and crabby at her.

Have you been able to emphasize to the GP's that you very much value their involvement in your DD's life? Maybe they think your scorn for her dad extends to them? (and it'll be easier if you stop expecting them to "fix" their grown son. They've probably tried already, and they CAN'T do anything.)

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Talley Sue...
I'm not totally estranged from the GP's... it's just that three weeks ago, I caught the father in yet another HUGE lie. I called his mother to find out some facts and to let her know I checked up on him and found out for myself that once again he was out fooling around and lying to me (black, ugly lies).

She took it that I was yelling at her. Seriously! I was venting my anger at him for lying to me and pulling Emmy into "all this". She instead stood up for him, saying that I was mean and being evil towards HIM. Since that little tift, she has been odd towards me. I only see her every other weekend, and I just KNOW she has to understand where I'm coming from... us mothers DO stick together. We protect our young to the death.

This is my last day posting here so I'm trying to get as much in as I can...

When my ex married that pregnant teenager in late 2000, he threatened to take DD away from his mother. He took Me to court and almost had the "supervised" visits lifted... meaning, he and his new "wife", even tho she was just a child and rather naive/young, would be able to be alone and "fit" enough to care for my DD.

Fast forward one month; my ex was arrested for drug dealing and theft, his new wife had given birth to a mixed child (she said she didn't know who the father was... my ex is very, very prejudice and I guess he couldn't handle having a 'black' baby by his new wife, WHO KNOWS with him), and they were separated.

Of course, now she is pregnant again, this time with HIS child, yet he claims he is divorcing her.

Anyway long story short, when the ex was trying to remove DD from his mother, she and I had a very teary, long chat. I told her, PROMISING her, that I would never ever take DD away from her and I would fight tooth and nail to keep her with them. I told her I respected them (then she told me how much she respected me) and that they are a good influence on her, yadda yadda yadda.

In the past two years, as the ex gets worse and worse, his mother is getting weirder. I think she has given up on her son, and figures if she cannot change or help him, she will just take him as he is and pamper him.

I don't hate them at all, and the last time I talked to his mom, I appologized for "letting my anger show" when I talked to her about her "lying son". I told her that I'd leave her out of any questions or concerns I have with him. But I did ask her to please, please guard DD with her life and to please put DD FIRST... put her own son second... he is, after all, 32 years old and a screw-up. DD is 5 years old and FULL of hope, smarts, will and life.

I have been told... that perhaps I can try to get "full legal custody" versus "joint legal custody". However, for the past 5 years, I HAVE been making all decisions on my own, regarding "everything". The ex, well, he just isn't there, is gone for weeks/months, or he is lacking in interest when I talk about schools and such. Plus since I'm the one with the money and the job, I am the decision maker anyway, if ya ask me.

There will come a day, this will all come to an end, and I hope it ends the way I want it to. Him going away, DD taking a new last name/new daddy, and the grandparents still having an active part in her life. While I do consider myself a very strong "single parent" it is not what my childhood dream was. Seeing how DD gravitates towards boys and men at school and in life in general... really makes me see that little girls need a father.

Many thanks to all of you for reading and for your advice... I won't be able to post as of tomorrow but will always be lurking.

- darkeyedgirl

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I think that preserving the relationship with the grandparents is important, but it needs to be separated from your ex's relationship (or lack thereof) with his daughter.

In THEIR interest -- as well as yours, and your daughters -- it sounds like the supervised visitation should be changed to take place elsewhere, and with different (maybe court appointed) supervision. The conflict of interest is way too great for them to handle. The fact that he's tried stuff before works in your favor -- I'm assuming you have some documentation of it, so even if his parents now refuse to admit it, there will be police records and so forth. They shouldn't be placed in a situation where they need to choose between their son and their granddaughter. And you shouldn't have to deal with that stress. So far, they've been up front and honest, and able to control the situation. But what happens next time?

That doesn't mean that they shouldn't see her -- they should. But at your house, or at theirs when they can prove he's not there, or at a neutral third location.

And he should be supervised by someone who has less/no bias, and who has the ability, resources, and will to fully monitor and control his actions with respect to your daughter.

I'd talk to a lawyer asap if I were you.

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I agree with everyone who said don't give money. When my DD was 9, I got married to a wonderful man. DD had NEVER seen her bio father, and he had never paid child support, despite the fact that I had a long-standing order.
In any case, as far as I remember, I had to request that his parental rights be terminated. They had to make a "good faith" effort to find him and get him to sign the papers, but since everyone knew they would never find him, it was just a formality. In the end, when our lawyer had done all that was legally required to find him, the judge made the decision to terminate his rights without him being present. Then my DH was free to adopt her, which he did. Now her bio father has NO rights to her at all, which is great. Never can he come to OUR house and try to disrupt things, should he ever decide to do that.
Also, my oldest brother was a drug addict and jailbird for many years. He got a girl pregnant and the baby was put into foster care because the mother was bipolar. Anyway, after a few years, the court terminated HIS parental rights so the foster parents could adopt the child. The child was adopted and I think it was for the best that he never have contact with my brother, even though it means that we never get to see him either. He will grow up happier and healthier if he isn't exposed to his loser father. Thank God the courts realized this.
It appears that your ex could be a danger to your DD. In this case, and in the case of recurring and unresolved addiction problems and trouble with the law, I wonder if a judge might not revoke his parental rights *without* his agreement.
My suggestion is this: wait until the next time he disappears for a few days. Go to the courthouse and tell them that he has disappeared for the "XX" time and that you would like an order to revoke his parental rights. If you are lucky, he won't show up in time to contest the order, and you'll be home free. If he does contest it, just continue with the investigation. I think you might find a judge who will see that he is a danger to your DD and terminate his rights. Ask around- sometimes judges are known to have feelings one way or another on cases like this.
Also, I think it's VERY important that you NOT let your DD have unsupervised visits in the grandparents' home. They are obviously too deep into all this and they are incapable of making good decisions about her care and protection. I suggest that you demand supervised visitation for them and ex-H. Either that or demand that the grandparents visit your DD in YOUR home. If they will not do that, then so be it. I would not let ANYONE guilt me into putting my child in danger. Either they are thinking of your DD first, or they are not. YOU must think of her safety first- no matter what. And I don't mean just her physical safety- I also mean her mental safetly. A small child can be seriously damaged by the situation you describe. She will bear the consequences of it for life.
Please think of your DD and do whatever is necessary to keep her from being a pawn in all this. Move to another state if you have to- you have physical custody and that's all that matters.

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