Visitation Issues & Mediation

by Jennifer from Chipley, Florida, Washington County

I have primary custody of my 8 yr old. We were never married. Father's visitation was only just recently changed after going back to mediation after being in contempt back in August of 2009.

He kept pushing for more visitation yet every time she's there he sleeps most of the day or takes her somewhere and won't let her decide what she wants to do.

They do not give her any decision making, just tell her what to do and if she gets hurt oh well. He just started overnights for two nights. In mediation we were in agreement that he would be home when she was there etc.

Since she's been there he works at night and sleeps most of the time she's there. She has came back now for the last two visitation with head lice, nits and eggs.

I had her cleared before she went to last visitation and she came back yet again on December 26, 2010 with nits yet again. I have treated my home over and over again just to have her returned with them, she gave them to her sister I am currently working on getting my 8 year old clear of them.

Her step mother, her father's wife, treats my child badly, she curses at her, calls me names which I've heard with my own ears before in front of my child, makes fun of her and lets her kids and friends of hers do towards my child.

Also the father isn't around, he's either at home sleeping or doesn't go out to the stores when his wife takes my daughter out without her. My daughter is constantly upset and crying. Shes upset, embarrassed and distressed every time she comes back.

I've been keeping medical documentation as far as the head lice but what do I do about mental abuse. Can I put a hold on visitation until they take care of their side medically by treating everyone and cleaning everything? How can I stop mental abuse by fathers wife?

Answer to Florida Child Visitation Question

Dear Jennifer,

I rarely suggest to parents to involve the Department of Children and Families (DCF) in their family life unless there is documented physical abuse, but it may be your best path.

The head lice in and of itself is probably not enough to warrant investigation, but that coupled with your other issues within the household may trigger an investigation.

The fact that your ex is either sleeping or not there when your daughter visits, contrary to your mediation agreement, may persuade a judge that your ex is in contempt of a court order.

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