I have joint legal custody of my daughter, mother has physical. I have video of my daughter self abusing her arm. I have audio of my daughter stating that she isn't allowed to answer my questions (what did you do this weekend, how was school, who are your friends). When pressed, she says her mother told her not to answer my questions. I have a horrific voice mail of my daughter screaming at me after the mother egged her on. Daughter's canned phrase is "I don't want to talk about this Daddy". She's 3.5 years old. Assume pro se.
Family Law Attorney
If the child's behavior is so abnormal around you that you are concerned that the mother is trying to frustrate your parenting/visitation time, I might petition the Family Court to find the mother in violation or contempt and see what happens. The fact that the Attorney for the Child is not on your side is of concern, however, such attorneys are usually neutral and are trying to do what the child really wants, despite the belief of one or both parents that the child is being "coached" by the custodial parent as to what to say.
Since you have joint legal custody, you may want to have the child independently examined by a qualified forensic psychologist to explore the basis for her behavior. You might also want to explore the parenting and mediation resources offerred for free by many NYS Family Courts to see whether the tension between the two parents can be reduced and for both participants to focus on what is in the best interests of the child rather than using the child as an object to argue about.
As opposed to what I presume may have been your other question about "boyfriend/girlfriend" contact, there is more of an expectation here that you have a right to visitation and developing a relationship with your child which not poisoned by the custodial parent, though it may take some work and concessions on both your parts, and I believe here an attorney could be useful to help mediate the issues and reduce the apparent level of conflict.
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Criminal Defense Attorney
I do not like the expression you used "when pressed". Do not press a 3.5 year old as to tell you anything about her mother on issues of custody. It is not right for the child, and it will backfire for you in the custody proceedings. New York State has a Children's Bill of Right prohibiting parents to discuss child custody and visitation proceedings with the children. Any child will get defensive if asked questions about the other parent, especially when the child knows parents are not on friendly terms with one another. I would not put a child into such a position. I would not suggest to use video and audio of the child unless it is a voice mail, meaning you did not record it. In case of a 3.5 year old a voice mail will mean to the court that the mother called and let the child record the nasty voice-mail, as it is doubtful that a 3.5 year old will know how to dial the father's number on her own. Just be a father to your child, share your concerns with the Law Guardian and ask the court to appoint a forensic expert to examine any issues of parental alienation. Self-abuse is a serious problem, especially in a child as young. Talk to your child's doctor and to the Law Guardian about it. And, for your own sake, you will be better off with an attorney handling your custody proceedings.
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Criminal Defense Attorney
The mother is well on her way to parentally alienating the child from you. That said, you should monitor yourself as to what you are asking of the child. If the mother is adversely affecting the child and/or your relationship with her, then you should consult a family law attorney to discuss evidence and options.
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