Today’s Ask Carolyn is a three-part response to a lengthy letter from “Desperately Seeking, A Concerned Mother and Grandmother.” I have broken the letter down into three parts, as I see at least three points in time where more intervention was needed. What I do not want to have to write is Part IV, where someone is dead. Escalating domestic abuse and children do not mix.
Part I of Concerned Grandmother: First Time Daughter Moves Out (Pregnant)
My daughter dated the father of her child for two years (2014-2016) and during this time they lived together. Due to emotional abuse, she left him and came back home when she was seven months pregnant. She didn’t remove all of her belongings because her intentions (I believe) were to go back once the baby was born. Her main goal at the time was to not be so stressed. Should she go back when the baby is born?
Carolyn Answers …
She should get the remainder of her belongings and run. Your daughter should get help for herself and learn why she finds it acceptable to allow the abuse. She should start counseling immediately with a counselor, or an agency such as Family Service of the Piedmont. Remember, the baby is an innocent party and does not need to be exposed.
Part II of Concerned Grandmother: Second Time Daughter Moves Out
(Baby Now 3 Months)
To make a long story short, she moved back in with him when my grandbaby was around three months. But before she moved back she was back and forth visiting with him so that he could have some time with the baby. During one of the visits, he assaulted her while she was holding the baby. She moved out. She went to the magistrate’s office and he was charged with assault on a female. My daughter agreed to him taking anger management classes. Sometime during the classes, she moved back in with him.
Carolyn Answers …
Your daughter has societal helps that she is not taking full advantage of. In Part I of this Carolyn Answers, she probably made the mistake of not getting the needed mental health treatment. She has now moved out twice and moved back in twice.
For whatever the reason, she is susceptible to condoning abuse. She needs help. Now, in this section of the saga, she has rejected help. Rejection one of help: It sounds like she agreed to some “deal” for him to take anger management classes that allowed him access to the baby and to her. There were probably other options. She should have stood by her prosecution of him for all available remedies of protection. Rejection two of help: She didn’t even make him finish the anger management classes before moving back with him.
Part III of Concerned Grandmother: Intensifying Abuse
(Baby Now Almost a Year Old)
The baby is now almost a year old. The emotional abuse has started again – name calling, a lot of inappropriate arguments, etc. He eventually put my daughter and the baby out in the cold. They came back home to me. (Ask Carolyn notes that this is the third time mother has moved out and back in with grandmother – so sad). And now the harassing phone calls, text messages and some stalking (by his admittance) starts. My daughter starts documenting and recording phone calls and threats. He also leaves voice messages and threats. He even starts calling me. Fast forward to April of this year, my daughter files for child support and then files for a 50B. In June, the 50B was extended for a year. However, the exact same day that the 50B was extended, the court awards the father visitation – Tuesdays and Thursdays from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. and every Saturday from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. After this, the father violates the 50B twice. In the order, the father could only text my daughter regarding their baby. Besides that, there was to be no contact whatsoever. He ended up texting her about her seeing some other guy and him hearing she was pregnant again. The second violation came when he had a third party call her. Though the third party claimed to be only calling about the baby, his tone and words said otherwise. There were also a few concerns we had during the visitation hours, such as the crowd the father would bring with him to the exchange, a marijuana smell once (which he is an active smoker) and a few other things that my daughter brought up in the review (though she didn›t bring up everything) on July 27. However, the judge stated there were not good enough reasons to show that the child was in danger, and so she granted him an overnight visit. Now he gets her every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday morning until Sunday evening. My daughter was requesting supervised visits. However, at this point, my daughter is asking for limited visitation and/or alternate Saturdays and Sundays at a mediation that the two of them attended together even though she had a protective order against him. Can you offer any advice to a young lady going through this who’s without an attorney?
Carolyn Answers …
I am seriously concerned about the escalation of the threats and harassment. This is a very concerning pattern to me, and the kind at makes me shiver that someone could wind up seriously injured or dead. And now the precious baby may be witnessing domestic violence.
I do not know why a mediation was held under the circumstances with a 50B in place. That is not customary in Guilford County.
Your daughter should take her time and present all her evidence. She should write down ahead of time all her points and all the supporting evidence. Take her points with her and read them if necessary. She needs to start at the beginning and tell the whole story. You do not say if the father has an attorney. One side with an attorney and one without can make for an unlevel playing field. Your daughter may want to ask for a continuance to get an attorney.
With or without an attorney, please take all recordings and text messages for the judge to hear and/or read. If these are on phones, you must leave the phones in a locker in the lobby at security when you enter the courthouse. When the morning calendar is called, your daughter should answer and state that she will need the devices where the information is recorded in the courtroom. The court will customarily enter an order to allow these devices to be brought to the courtroom. It sounds you have some good evidence on devices.
Your daughter should take with her the 50B, records of the 50B violations and the assault on a female records.
All who have heard or seen the harassment can testify. That includes you as a concerned grandmother.
Did the father finish the anger management course? Does he have a certificate of completion? Your daughter can subpoena the treatment provider to the courtroom. I’ll bet he never finished.
Do both parents have certificates of completion to the course “Parenting Under Two Roofs?” Your daughter should ask about this.
Your daughter can request drug testing of the father, and many times the judge will drug test then and there. Your daughter also will be tested. If the Father tests positive for drugs, that should help your case.
Your daughter should ask that the visitations be supervised at Harmony House in Jamestown. If she tells this whole story, the court will be concerned about protecting this very young juvenile.
Finally, you as a grandmother may need to intervene if your daughter cannot stand up strong and straight or is too young to do so. My prayers and best wishes.
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Note that answers are intended to provide general legal information and are not specific legal advice for your situation. The column also uses hypothetical questions. A subtle fact in your unique case may determine the legal advice you need. Also, please note that you are not creating an attorney-client relationship with Carolyn J. Woodruff by writing or having your question answered by Ask Carolyn.