Any lawyers out there?


I have posted many times in relation to myself and one time asked for prayers for my sister. WE are getting so frustrated at the law here in Florida. My sister is now divorce for 7 months and her ex has already remarried, by a judge to his mistress. I have posted here in family life, I think, for prayers for my sister if you wish to read what is going on in details. I will be brief here. The problem is the children. The children are 9 years old, girl, and 6 years old, boy. They hate to go to their fathers. I have to pick up my daughter from school and my niece and nephew go to the same school. I pick them all when their dad or mom can’t. They got into my car one time and boy that was an emotional scene when I had to part the car and give the kids to their dad. I can be arrested even if the kids don’t want to go with their father for I am only an aunt. The kids were crying and so upset. They did not get out of my car except by force by their dad and new so call wife. They are both police officers also. My niece has had severe stomach aches for months now. The doctor is doing test, an upper GI and Barium enema. They have to go with their dad today for this is his weekend. The kids don’t want to go and started to cry sense Wednesday. My sister tried talking to her ex that this is not affecting them physically, especially her daughter. He didn’t care and said they will go with him. I have tried to talk to him also and tell him that he never gave the children time to adjust to his new woman. He introduced the kids to her while only recently separated. This woman has three children of her own of different fathers. She is known as a “home wrecker” by her other officer workers. My sister just so happen to run into a officer that knew her and told her that. My ex brother-in-law has change to the worse. He is no longer kind, not even to his children. The whole 15 years married to my sister, he never drank any alcohol. NOw he drinks socially, according to the kids who were shocked to see their dad drink. The oldest is the one who tells us more of what goes on over at her dad’s. She tells us that the older daughter, 15, of her daddy’s new wife, always dresses in black and wears black nail polish and lipstrick. She has her room always dark and her blinds in her room are taped shot with duct tape. They do call themselves CAtholic and receive Jesus in the Eucharist, yet are in adultery. By they, I mean my sisters ex and his mistress/wife. Legally, even though the kids are both in therapy with a counselor, there is nothing my sister can do to protect her kids when it is emotionally harming them to go with their dad. The ex always says the kids are fine once with him. The kids tell other stories of verbal abuse, negligence and emotional abuse. There also has been two physical abuse reported, but my ex and his girlfriend are very good at manipulation. I have to finish this in the next thread.


To continue, the ex and his girlfriend say the one with the problem is my sister and all of her family. I feel so bad for the kids. My niece gets so depressed and upset that she doesn’t eat. She doesn’t like the food that her dad gives her and is way to picky, but then goes without good food all weekend. She has her upper GI on Monday and wants to be with her mother. Her dad said no to bring her on Sunday night and that either he or his new wife will take her to the appointment. My sister will still meet them their for her daughter wants her their not them. Can anyone see any legal way to help this situation? My sister does have primary custody of the kids. We do not want the kids never to see their dad, as he thinks, it is that he never gave them time to adjust to a new woman in their life. He went from leaving home to living with her. The kids are getting two sets of totally different parenting. According to FLStature 61.12 or 12.61, can’t remember now, if both parents need to go to a parenting class to help the kids with the adjustment of a divorce. My sister went, he has yet to go, but it is too late the damage emotionally has been done. How can you talk to a cold heart? He has gotten so cold. To him it is only about getting the kids- a power struggle. He does believe in pre-marital sex and said that when the kids were older that he would teach them about protection. This is going to be against what my sister will tell them about abstinance until marriage. BUt when they are with their dad, they will be allowed to go out on dates as young as 13. We pray that the courts will help the kids, but morally will not be even allowed to be brought up. THis is all going to court sometime next month or April, but in the mean time the kids are abused every other weekend with verbal abuse and neglect in being feed properly. My niece just old me yesterday that on Saturday morning, her dad and his girlfriend sleep until late afternoon. They both work night shift, so that the kids have to come up with their own breakfast and lunch. They do have the 13 year old there but she listen to music according to my niece and the 15 year old leaves the house to work or be with her boyfriend. A sad situation huh? I don’t know what to tell my sister anymore. All we can do is put the kids in our Lord’s Hands and hope they will be fine. Oh, they are also allowed to go off by themselves in the mall, they meet at a place later on. They is very dangerous in our society today. I am so upset and feel as my sister does, helpless. :confused:


You have a very difficult situation within your family. Because I am not an attorney that is licensed in Florida, it would be inappropriate to comment on the florida laws that may govern your specific situation or give you any specific legal advice.
However, there are several general things that can be done. First, if you suspect the children are being abused (mentally, emotionally, physically or sexually), DO NOT HESITATE to report the suspected abuse to the proper authorities. Those authorities vary from state to state yet the local police authorities are always able to handle such situations. Given the fact that some in the family may be police officers, this may be a difficult situations. Most states also have a “Department of Child Welfare” or “Department of Family Services” or the like. Those authorities may also have the jurisdictional power to investigate suspected abuse situations.
Beyond that, I would recommend the children’s mother talk to an experienced family law attorney. It is very important that she find a competent attorney well versed in the relevant areas of family law. The best way to do this is by word of mouth recommendations. Picking a lawyer out of a phonebook is very risky. In any event, SHOP for lawyers just as you would for any other major purchase. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about education, professional experience, areas of expertise, fees, etc. Don’t be intimidated by attorneys and don’t think higher fees equals better attorneys. A good attorney is one that is willing to work with you and one that you feel comfortable with.
If she cannot afford an attorney, call the state and/or local bar association and seek a pro bono referral.

I will be praying for you and your family.


I am not an attorney! Can’t give legal advice, but wanted to comment on generally the whole since I went thru a terrorizing divorce with my 9 year olds father who just wanted my son just to have him, to have control. He also immediately went to a girlfriend. We went to church regularly every Sunday all our marraige, professing Christ to be most important in our lives, and he was a long-time member of Promise Keepers (still getting thier mail during the year- plus secret affair). So he lives with her and her 12 and 15 year old in another state and my son goes ther for his visits. I had the same worries - my son only 9 but on top all the concerns I am also worrying about dating and other moral issues for older age. Then there is TV and movies and computer.

The shock of divorce and worry for your child living a now divided life brings on all these what-ifs. But you really have to sort out what is to worry about here and now and what is for later. Learn what you can control and what you can’t and give that to God. Climb the mountain one step at a time. Don’t borrow tomorrows troubles for today. We never know what tomorrow will bring. Maybe he will remarry someone else and go live on an island in two years. All the dating worries will have been for naught.

I give all my worries to Jesus by sitting before the Tabernacle - I’d love to go everyday but once a week for an hour helps so much. Sometimes I can hardly think straight with all the different worries in my mind I have to tell him about. But after I tell Him, I have God’s peace.

I worry about these things too. I worry a lot about this being the male example in his life. What about dating. And I was so worried about my son’s innocence, and the teenagers, what they might tell him. So I give it all to God. All I can do is that, try to have open communication, and use all the time I have to impart values. I am grateful to have my son in a traditional Catholic school where my values are reinforced. This matters so much when he has to divide his time between two homes, one of which has opposite values. At least at school there is consistency with home as far as values go and how most of the other children live.

So then you are left with the problems for now. The kids being forced out of the van to their Dads is a real problem that may well be able to be addressed. Lawyers will usually give a free consult for first visit. Why not make a couple of appointments -even 3 or 4 - and get some advice on what to do now, and what to be doing (usually record keeping), and how likely is it that something can be done? At least you will have some direction.

I will pray for your sister and neice and nephew.


I am also not licensed in Florida, but I wanted to piggyback on cjd’s response. They wrote:

[quote=cjd]… if you suspect the children are being abused (mentally, emotionally, physically or sexually), DO NOT HESITATE to report the suspected abuse to the proper authorities.

In some states, you are actually required by law to do so. In my state, the laws are very encompassing, and just about anyone who may be aware of abuse must report it, not just the usual teachers and medical professionals. While I am not suggesting you may be prosecuted for failing to report it, consider that you will have more credibility in reporting it now should you need to testify to it later. You wouldn’t want to get up on the stand and make these claims having never before reported them in accordance with the law.
My suggestion for you and your family is to winnow down a list of what he does that is not in the best interest of the children. Try to keep emotion out of it, and stick to that standard. This will help you be more concise and efficient when you meet with an attorney.


Thanks to you all for your advice. I forgot to say that my sister does have an attorney and that according to the attorney and the police, for I went myself to talk to them, their is nothing that can be done. According to the police here, the kids have to go with their father when it is his weekend, whether they want to or not. As he put it, “they are just kids, they had to be told what to do, and it sounds like the step mom syndrome” is basically what the cops here say. As far as the suspected emotional abuse, they say that we have to be able to prove it. There was two physical abuse already reported and you could see the damage on the body and the department of children and family services were called. They investigated and took pictures and talked with the childrens dad and wife. Nothing happened. Children services told my sister that the dad and the wife would just get a slap on the hand and asked not to do it again. This is why we do not report the emotional abuse that we can’t prove. The children are just now starting to open up, but the counselors are moving slowly on it. Now you know why we, my sister and myself and all my family, feel so helpless in defending the children. The laws are not protecting the children. We don’t know if we report this if it will matter or if the kids are just having a harm time adjusting to a new mom. Yes, the physical abuse is a great reason for the little boy to hate going to his dad, but the girl is the one who hates it the most. It is so frustrating. :mad:


God, grant me the Serenity
To accept the things I cannot change…
Courage to change the things I can,
And Wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time,
Enjoying one moment at a time,
Accepting hardship as the pathway to peace.
Taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is,
Not as I would have it.
Trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His will.
That I may be reasonably happy in this life,
And supremely happy with Him forever in the next.

As gently and quickly as possible, the wise thing to do is for you and your sister to help the kids accept this situation. Right now, the ex-husband is playing a tug of war with your sister, using the kids as a rope. It is impossible to pull a rope, with no one holding on to the other end. If you encourage the children to make the best of the situation. To act positively toward the new wife. It will be better for everyone involved. Clearly, it is not fair, but it will be better for the kids. The nicer the kids are to their father and the new wife, the better time they will have at the father’s house. They need to learn to get along, make the best of, grin and bear it.

Any other option is just pouring gas on a fire.

Of course, all physical abuse should be reported immediately to the police and Children’s Protective Services.


Lots of good advice here.

What strikes me are a few odds and ends.

One thing to keep in mind is that in divorce you or your sister have no say in how the children’s father raises them.

Whether a kid likes it or not is irrelevant.

What damage is being done to the children if their step-sibling dresses in all black?

Why is it such a major issue for you?

Are you and your sister supportive of the children’s father in the presence of the children or do you stoke the fire?

You need to ask yourselves some tough questions, starting with do you really put the children first in all instances? Their interests are not helped by open criticism of their father.


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To answer some of Ronin’s question. Yes, we are very positive to the children about their dad. I tell my niece that she must listen to her dad for he is her father. SHe knows he is living in adultery for that was one of her first questions when he moved in with his mistress. She is in a Catholic School and they do go over the 10 commandments. She has made her first confession last year. She is afraid to go to her fathers. We do not know why. That is our biggest concern. To answer whetner we put their best interest forward, that is all my sister wants. SHe has tried to tell her ex that by him forcing the children to do certain things that he is damaging them. Until the school counselor called him and told him that his children need counseling, he did not think they needed it. He is suppose to pay half of all medical bills and dental bills and has not done so since the divorce. He owes my sister over $1000.00 in medical bills. He said he refused to pay for the counselor bills for his kids are fine. He is in violation of the divorce agreement and has been served with papers by my sisters’ lawyer to pay what he owes. He also did not bring his son to the counselor when he had him during that time. The counselor has called him several times to make an appointment with him and his new wife and to this date he has yet to do so. The counselors are very upset with him for the kids need the support of both parents in order for her to counsel them, but like I said he doesn’t think they need counseling. My ex brother in law has told me personally that children don’t know what they feel that they just think they do. He said they are fine. When my niece talks to me, I encourage her and tell her to give her dad a chance and his new wife. SHe tells me that she has and that her dad just lies to her and yells at her. SHe is very very afraid of her dad and his wife. She told me once that she had a very bad dream and needed to talk to her mommy. I told her that she can go to her dad at night when she has a bad dream, she said, very afraid, “no way, I will be yelled at and told to get over it.” Her biggest compliant is that her dad doesn’t love her or hug her. We have not said negative things to her of her dad, she has said them. She sounds like she hates and loves him at the same time. She doesn’t even know her own feelings. That is way she is in counseling. Her teacher has commented that my niece looks so depressed and is not paying attention in class. The teacher, not my sister, said that it happens afraid her weekend with her dad. Yes, she is having a had time adjusting, but there is something going on over there for her to hate going so bad that she gets physically sick. By the way, the sibling dressed in black reflects this girts soul. My niece has told me she goes onto the interest with vampire things on it. My niece could not tell me more. So yes, we are concerned of this teenagers influence on her. Yes I also agree that it is out of our hands and we just trust the Lord to help the kids if need be. The counselors of the children have also said that the kids should have a cell phone since their father doesn’t allow them to use the phone to call their mom. The reason for the cell phone would be to decrease their separation anxiety from their mom. The counsel not my sister thought of this. The counselors have told the children that if a physical abuse happens again for them to lock themselves in a room and use the cell phone to call 911. For a counselor to say that, the kids have told her more than they have told their mom or us. The counselor want to speak to the father first before making an judgment, but he has had over a year to call back and has not. When he was still married to my sister, I witness his rage on his son when he was not obeying him. It was scarely for me and he just kept hitting him over and over again to quiet the boy, but he cried all the more. So yes, we are afraid for the kids. My ex brother in law has an anger problem. WE don’t know what goes on over at his house. We try to help the children to accept the situation, but they are keeping quiet about something. We only hope the counsels can get to the buttom of it. Please don’t be so quick to judge. I love my ex brother in law. He liked me the most when he was still married to my sister. He talked to me and even during the separation, he would call me to see if I would help things between him and my sister, but he was not being a responsible dad and living up to what he is suppose to do according to the divorce papers. He hasn’t shown any interest in his childrens psychological health. This is what the counselors has said, not us. :frowning:


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