What Next?


My husband has been divorced from his ex-wife for years now and they have an existing court order which she doesn’t follow. I know we can take her back to court but can’t afford to do so every time we don’t get a copy of a report card or she doesn’t return a phone call when we are supposed to talk to the children or when she decides to talk negatively about my husband in front of the children or not show up to drop them off on time for visitation. Even if the poor “victim”, as she claims to be, gets found guilty of contempt I’m sure she’ll get a fine (which her parents will pay) and the cycle will continue and nothing will change. The NC court system doesn’t seem to care that my husband is a good father and does everything possible to be a part of his children’s lives despite his ex-wife’s attempts to prevent him from doing so. Apart from going broke because we don’t have the money to keep an attorney at our beck and call to deal with all her petty crap nor the time to be in court every other week what can we do to have an iron in this fire? She is unstable at best but because her parents are actively involved in cleaning up her mess and constantly babysitting her (she’s in her early 30s), the children have a roof over their head and food in their stomach so we have resigned ourselves to the fact that there isn’t a chance on this earth that the court will do the right thing and hold her accountable for being an unfit parent and give us custody. With that being said, how do we go about forcing her to co-parent when there is a court order in place? I’ve heard of mediation but know nothing about it. Is mediation an appropriate option in a situation like ours or is there something else we can try?

Thank you for any advice you can offer. We are grasping at straws here!


Mediation is a formal setting in which parties try and reach agreements in their disputes. It does not sound like that will give you resolution. Perhaps having a parenting coordinator would help.



In my experience, mediation is simply designed to bring two parties into some sort of written agreement, which on the whole is good, if the reason they aren’t abiding by the court order because of some physical, ethical, or financial dilemma. However, if it is a case of the other party chooses upon phase of the moon and convenience whether or not they will follow the order/agreement and when they won’t, it doesn’t really do anything extra that a court order would. Mediation doesn’t have any extra enforcement power than a pre-existing court order does, it simply tries to make the terms more agreeable so that there is better cooperation.

[FWIW…Your situation sounds a little similar to the mother in our situation. Well, do I understand the whole not following the SA or court order thing. Ours also plays the victim game whenever it suits her, yet feels free to violate whatever agreement whenever it suits her. Ours is also backed by her parents, who are willing to pay whatever they can to bail her out in addition to paying for most of her housing expenses. So, she can afford to sue us whenever she gets the whim, but we can’t afford to take her to court to make sure that she abides by the agreements in place. We’re now filing pro se…parents have paid for her to have an attorney which she plans on billing us for on the grounds that she is poor even though she can afford plastic surgery, iPhone, dance lessons, and gym membership while we are struggling to meet basic bills. It’s absolutely maddening!]



stepmom130 – I have been where you have been. Your story sounded so familiar – from no phone calls being returned, late on drop off for visitation and talking negatively about dad around children. Our battle started in January 07. My husband took her to court - my stepson was only 10 then - the judge talked to him in May 07 to see what was going on – and can’t remember now – court was put off until June 07. His story changed and we being a bunch of lies were told to him and we struck out…we did get a court order written up then. Before we were only from a separation agreement. Included in court order was the visitation times pick up and drop off and when the child would visit which parent and also there was a clause in the order that no party would talk bad about the other party in front of the child. But we were able to take her back to court in Aug 09 for a show cause order of denying my husband time with child and also being late. Make sure you have documentation of being late – gas receipts if a station close by to document what time you were there and also in our case we had to give her a schedule of summer visitation to which she denied us time and court not pick up when we were scheduled to pick up child. In our case the child was not doing well in school and we had documentation to back us up… try to keep a log of everytime that the party is late and when you are able to take her back to court you have all your documentation to prove that she was late, didn’t return a call or whatever be the case – end result there was make up time with us for the child and she had to pay attorney’s fees… Finally in Feb 10, we did a change of circumtances with significant change that had happened with child - child was not doing well in school - and child wanted to come live with us…among other things and my husband was finally granted primary custody of my stepson. So hang in there and keep documentation of everything and hopes that one day things can change.


Thank you all for your advice! It is really satisfying, in some twisted sort of way, to know that we are not alone in our struggles. I have documented everything but a lot of the court order is he said/she said or we would have to have our children testify. They are all under 11 years old so we aren’t overly excited about doing this but are getting really close to the tipping point. The children go from wanting to live with us when they are here and now she is putting in emails to us that they are scared of their dad and that is why they say that they want to live here. She is sick and uses and manipulates her children which is just deplorable. We too have had similar issues with grades and attendance issues at school. We are holding out hope that the children see through her and don’t buy into her fears and irrationalities and aren’t jaded by her. They will be here this summer with us for a couple of months and away from her crazy which will be nice. We go to court for our three year reevaluation at the end of this year so I will keep my fingers crossed. Thank you for your stories and sharing your situations, it has helped to show me there is hope in what seems like a hopeless situation.