“My ex-husband has a court order that he is not to drink alcohol 8 hours prior to or any time during his visitation with our 5 year old daughter. This order is indefinite. There is an additional order in the decree that he is not to take her to his boat until she is age 7.
He has done both. And done them at the same time. He is a diagnosed alcoholic. Proven in court – and that is the reason the judge imposed this order on him.
I fear for my daughter’s safety and after hearing he was driving the boat while drinking with no other adult on the boat – with my daughter – I nearly fell over. She tells me he drinks beer and wine “all the time”. I have confronted him – he admits to it and then tells me he’ll stop. Then after the next visit – our daughter will tell me “daddy wasn’t honest again and he was drinking again.”
What can I do? Please? This man has all the money in the world and can hire the best lawyers and as most cases are – I live pay check to pay check. What resources do I have? What can I do to potentially save my daughter’s life?”
You can file contempt charges to enforce the court order. If you believe visitation puts your daughter’s life in peril, you could request a modification of the visitation order such that father has supervised visits until he completes an alcohol education program.
You could ask him if he would attend co-parenting sessions with you and your daughter to understand the importance of following the Court orders. You could make a deal with him that your daughter is allowed to call you for immediate pick up if a sip of booze crosses his lips at any time during his visit. You can personally seek counseling to help you deal with dependency and enabling issues, and try to gather resources for your coping skills. Your daughter may also need therapy or dependency skills training.
A lot of this part is not legal advice, and has little to do with making your ex do or not all the things you would like him to do or he is legally obligated to do. Ultimately it is easier to control your own behavior and feelings than it is to control another person. Make a fearless assessment of how much of this is “He always gets away with it! I am his victim again because he always gets away with it!!” and “Wow, if I do not do something here my daughter is going to get hurt!” If it is the former, then look inward for coping tools and avenues for better communication. If it is the latter, then you should begin enforcement (contempt) proceedings and file for a modification of the timeshare plan.
Begin keeping a journal of every interaction. Make your ex aware that you are keeping track of things, and e-mail him or write him a letter (keeping a copy) detailing concerns so he knows that you know, and there is a paper trail. You may find these things useful in either the contempt action or in a future modification proceeding. It also can be therapeutic to get it out of you and down on paper.