This morning, I received an email from my son’s third grad

This morning, I received an email from my son’s third grade teacher saying that not only did he “stab someone with a pencil”, but she is concerned with his focus. First marking period shows him at D- with reading and C+ with math. He has to be constantly reminded to not daydream and pay attention.

I have made my concerns with his behavior and focus issues known to the school since first grade. The school and I completed assessments for ADHD, and spoken with our pediatrician who confirms ADHD and dyslexia.

Even though it has been four years since my divorce, my ex-husband continues to be as bitter and vengeful as he was from day one. While he can no longer physically abuse me, he can still have a sliver of control on me by using the children. It doesn’t matter that any discussions or decisions regarding the children are reasonable and in their best interest, the fact that it’s me making those suggestions is enough for him to want the exact opposite. During our custody hearing, I laid out all of the report cards, emails, assessments in a bid for permission to have my son seen by a counselor at the very least. My ex testified (with no evidence to back his claim) that the school has never made him aware of any issues, and our son is normal for that age. The judge told us that it was for us to work out, and put down in the opinion and order that the father would be seeking a second opinion regarding treatment options. I’ve asked multiple times since the hearing what the status was, and was told that there would be no second opinion, there was nothing wrong with our son and for as long as he was breathing, I would never be allowed to take him to be seen by a head doctor to mess around with his brain, or turn him into a pill popping lunatic like myself. (I take medication for anxiety and depression, I am not a pill popping lunatic, but my ex is one of those people who thinks depression is something people make up so they can use drugs).

Anyway, I know this is a long post, but I’m really not sure what I can do here. I’ve tried working with my ex...nothing. School and doctor can’t help without his consent. Judge won’t even listen because he expects the parties involved to work with each other...

Has anyone ever been in this kind of situation? What can I do?

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Oct 2

I do have a lawyer who felt very strongly that I should appeal the decision. Unfortunately, I don’t have the money to afford an appeal. The whole thing has left a bad taste in my mouth, and broke to the point where I have to couch surf to find change that I can put into gas... I filed for primary custody in May 2018 and a week before the hearing was scheduled to take place in October, my ex retains a lawyer and files a continuance. And then another continuance right before the next scheduled date. Then the court postponed to January.... and - wait for it - another continuance! I finally got into court in April. The judge spent more time telling us how he takes great pride in making decisions to ensure equal misery between the two parties. Assured us we wouldn’t like his decision, and said he would have a decision made within a few days. 92 days later, after multiple queries from my lawyer (I needed a decision because I needed to know where my daughter was to be registered for kindergarten -my district or his) the opinion was delivered on a standard form, riddled with grammatical and spelling errors, factual inconsistencies, stating that the 50/50 shared remains in effect and parties need to work with each other. It felt like the biggest “eff you”, especially because the court has to know that there is little I can do to fight it because I’m a single, working mother, with zero support (my family lives in Canada and Australia).

On the advice of my lawyer, I continue to document everything, control what I can, and ensure that I am meeting all the children’s needs. After a while, when I have had a chance to save, I can try again in court.

It’s just a really hard pill to swallow to know that I followed the rules, did everything I was supposed to, for what. For me to sit down and watch my son struggle when I know there are options out there to help but can’t use because his father has something to prove?

I will take your advice when I do go back to court, and show all my failed attempts at working with my ex.

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I am so sorry you are going through this. I know all about those court continuances and how maddeningly slow the wheels of justice can turn. I also know how lawyer fees can add up. I am wondering if possibly when you do get another court date if you can have the pediatrician, your son's teacher, and the school counselor subpoenaed to testify. Maybe if the judge heard what they had to say in person, he would be more inclined to listen. Beyond that the best thing you can do is to document everything. I am wondering, your husband may be able to stop your son from going to a child psychologist, but could your son have appointments with the school counselor or your school's social worker? I know that is not as good as seeing a professional child psychologist, but at least it might be some help. It is so tough when your ex is not being co-operative. As for the legal fees, I am wondering if you could work with a lawyer from Legal Aid. Legal Aid helps when people cannot afford high priced attorney fees. Another thing I wonder about is working with a guardian ad litem who is an attorney appointed for the child's best interests. A guardian ad litem does not work for either parent; he or she might have some influence on a judge. I am sorry. I am just trying to think of any possibility to check into. I wish I had answers for you. The other thing I think about as far as not being able to pay attorney fees is seeing if your church might be able to help with some of the fees. I know when my ex-husband was not paying the court ordered child support, our church helped with some of our bills. I don't know if a church might help with attorney fees, but you could ask. I am so sorry you are going through this.

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Oct 8

@Csks I agree with KaaleidoscopePictures. The next time you go into court ask your attorney to request a guardian ad litem. The judge will have to approve it but if they do, it will give you a third party whose job it is to look out for the interests of all parties including your son.

You say your child is ADHD and is dyslexic but it doesn't sound as though the dyslexia was the result of a formal assessment. This is something a guardian ad litem can recommend to the court after completing their independent review of the situation. If the judge approves it, I believe the court will pay for the evaluation (private or school) and this is something your ex cannot stop. The evaluation may recommend special help for your son. The guardian ad litem can then work with your ex to complete a school special education evaluation if it was not done and approve any services recommended.

In the meantime, you can ask the school if special help is provided to students through REGULAR EDUCATION in reading or math. This would mean pulling him out of class during his week to receive extra small group help in these subject areas. Since this is not special education, it is done as a routine thing for any student who is struggling and does not single him out.

The other thing you can do is to reserve judgment on any difficulties he is having unless you have factual information. Making a judgment before getting the facts can place a label on him that is not accurate and have a negative impact on his self-esteem. Continue to love him and be positive with him that he can be successful if you see he is discouraged.

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