Canadian citizen, American divorce, child custody?

This is a discussion on Canadian citizen, American divorce, child custody? within the Child Custody & Support forum, part of the FAMILY LAW, DIVORCE, CUSTODY category; I'm a Canadian citizen. In February, I (with my 3 y/o son) went to Idaho intending to marry a US ...

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Old Sep 9th, 2009, 03:33 PM   #1
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Default Canadian citizen, American divorce, child custody?

I'm a Canadian citizen. In February, I (with my 3 y/o son) went to Idaho intending to marry a US citizen (I was in love with him). The initial "plan" was that we would marry and my son and I would live there with him. As soon as I arrived, the plan changed. He started trying to delay the marriage, but wanted us to start trying to have a baby right away. As I would have no health insurance until he could add me to his insurance as his spouse, I refused and we were married in April. I got pregnant soon after.

It seemed like as soon as we were pretty sure the child would be a boy (we used a urine test), he started to change. He became very controlling. I had no money and no access to his money, and he stopped keeping cash in the house. He also started getting verbally abusive and physically threatening with me (pushing, throwing things), and abusive toward my son (put him in a cold shower or poured tobasco sauce in his mouth--sometimes until he vomited--when he misbehaved). He isolated and alienated me from his family to the point I felt uncomfortable even phoning them to ask if they'd pick up a loaf of bread for me. In the over five months I was there, he did not apply to sponsor either me or my son. I knew this could lead to me being deported and unable to return for ten years, and if my child was born there, he would not have to let it leave the country. This did not seem to worry him.

He also told me shortly after I became pregnant that he'd already contacted a lawyer and if I left him, he'd go after custody of our baby. His parents are wealthy, elderly, and have been wanting a grandson to carry on the name (they have no other blood grandchildren). I'm starting to think he just wanted a son for the potential inheritance it will get. And I may be paranoid, but I'm wondering if his plan was to keep me illegal in the US so I would be deported and he could keep the child.

The police were called (he called them!) to the house in late July, claiming he was scared I would harm him. When I explained my situation to them, and that he was not only a prison guard trained in self-defence, but had a loaded gun in the house, they told me the situation was abusive. They handed me some information on battered women's shelters and spousal abuse, made him leave the house for the night, and told me my best option was to return to Canada as quickly as possible. I had a friend drive all the way down to Idaho to pick up my son and me and bring us home. I left most of my belongings there because I was worried how he'd react if he knew I wasn't coming back.

We've been in contact on the phone, where he's been telling me he wants to work things out and maybe move up here to live with me. Then I got served with divorce papers he's had in the works for at least six weeks. They state that property in his possession (including my belongings) is to be considered his. They also state that since the baby (which isn't due until January) was conceived in Idaho, all custody and support issues would be resolved in an Idaho court. If I don't contest it within 20 days, the divorce will go through as is.

Since I returned to Canada, I've been on government assistance (pregnancy related problems prevented me from working), and though I qualify for legal aid on the custody issue, they won't do anything until after the child is born. If the divorce goes through as is (which will happen before the child is born), they can't help me at all. I would need to fight him in an Idaho court and I have 20 days to find an Idaho lawyer pro bono (pretty unlikely). But I've also been told (by legal aid) that responding at all is tantamount to agreeing that the Idaho court has some say over where and how custody will be dealt with. The child will be born in Canada and be a Canadian citizen. I did not abscond to another country with his baby so custody would go my way. I've told him repeatedly that he will have flexible visitation and leave to bring the child to the States for extended periods of time, and that under BC law he would be free to review or appeal the custody agreement every six months. Nothing less than sole custody of our child is enough for him.

Not sure how legal it is to designate jurisdiction for custody before the baby is even born, especially considering we both knew I could not have lived with him for more than six months a year unless he sponsored me, so we both knew I'd be going home. Does anyone have any idea what my options are? I've contacted a lawyer in Idaho, but he's $150 an hour...

Last edited by sharri; Sep 10th, 2009 at 01:26 AM.
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Old Sep 9th, 2009, 08:15 PM   #2
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Default Re: Canadian citizen, American divorce, child custody?

I'd post to the ask an attorney page. It costs 10 dollars.
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Old Sep 10th, 2009, 01:18 AM   #3
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Default Re: Canadian citizen, American divorce, child custody?

Just talked to someone, and I think it's going to be okay.
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Old Sep 10th, 2009, 02:06 AM   #4
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Red Face Re: Canadian citizen, American divorce, child custody?

I personally advise to check this mans legal recourse by going to the USA consulate nearest you... the laws of canada do state that if the child is born in canada he/she is offically canadian. however the Consulate may state that the legality of the devoirce is not in check.. so theirs an idea.
also if u have any concerns for the childs inheritance, and its father attempting to use the child as a form of inheratance for himself beat him at his own game by attempting to work out the inheartiance problems with the grandparents. I am sure that if they have made it clear that the grandchild is to get their inheritance, then they should arrange it so as the father or yourself has no power or control over where the money/inhearitance is kept safe at or how the money/inhearitance is spent... Considering if the grandparents are also willing to cut their own son out of the inheritace there is evidently an issue there that needs to be considered.
also since ur canadian i would also look into arguing ur right to a devorce of 50% so in short 50% of all property is rightfully your since, he failed to file the paper work to ensure u were an american u should not be held to american laws when u were essentail preyed upon... in short he has raped u. he attack you via phycology, to subuce u into getting pregant, with the intention of useing a child as a means to make himself rich. and since u are still canadian and the blood in ur veins is canadian so is the childs right canadian...
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Old Sep 10th, 2009, 07:06 AM   #5
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Default Re: Canadian citizen, American divorce, child custody?

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Originally Posted by sharri View Post
Just talked to someone, and I think it's going to be okay.
I would hope so! If you remember, please post back and let us know how it goes!

Your ex sounds a lot like mine. Pushing for commitment and "family" (getting preganant), then the REAL person came out in him. I lived with 3 years of hell after that. My ex uses HOT showers and lemon juice on our daughter. Weird...
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Old Sep 10th, 2009, 03:09 PM   #6
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Default Re: Canadian citizen, American divorce, child custody?

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I personally advise to check this mans legal recourse by going to the USA consulate nearest you... the laws of canada do state that if the child is born in canada he/she is offically canadian. however the Consulate may state that the legality of the devoirce is not in check.. so theirs an idea.
also if u have any concerns for the childs inheritance, and its father attempting to use the child as a form of inheratance for himself beat him at his own game by attempting to work out the inheartiance problems with the grandparents. I am sure that if they have made it clear that the grandchild is to get their inheritance, then they should arrange it so as the father or yourself has no power or control over where the money/inhearitance is kept safe at or how the money/inhearitance is spent... Considering if the grandparents are also willing to cut their own son out of the inheritace there is evidently an issue there that needs to be considered.
also since ur canadian i would also look into arguing ur right to a devorce of 50% so in short 50% of all property is rightfully your since, he failed to file the paper work to ensure u were an american u should not be held to american laws when u were essentail preyed upon... in short he has raped u. he attack you via phycology, to subuce u into getting pregant, with the intention of useing a child as a means to make himself rich. and since u are still canadian and the blood in ur veins is canadian so is the childs right canadian...
Well, I'm not interested in spousal maintenance/half his assets. I told him that over and over, and that I'd like to sit down as I did with my previous common law husband and just figure out something we could both agree on and save ourselves a bunch of money and aggravation. I'm not that interested in the inheritance, either. He has a sister who is childless, and though he and his parents are on good terms and he will inherit, they are so keen on having a boy-child to carry on the family name I think he figures having a boy will net him much more than half his parents' estate when they die. I don't understand his way of thinking. He already stands to inherit in excess of a million when they die--but he wants more!

I can't speak to his parents about this. They think his **** doesn't stink, and they believe I'm a horrible person who absconded with his child--because that's what he's told them. He kept insisting he couldn't ask them to give him the money it would cost to sponsor me and my son, but they must have loaned or given him the $3000 or so it would have cost to file with a lawyer. There's some real reasonable priorities right there. I shudder to think what values they'll be teaching this kid--that money is more important than people, that it's okay to ruin someone's whole life and then go out of your way to ruin it some more when you don't get what you want.

I've never considered money that important. Before I went there, I owned a house with my ex, had two jobs and was in a good financial position. When my ex and I redid our custody agreement so I could take my son out of the country, I handed over my half of the house to him. It's only freaking money! I was in love. Everything about the guy just seemed so wonderful and he was absolutely the greatest guy I'd ever been with...until he got me.

Of course, now that I'm penniless and on welfare and facing this nightmare, I'm starting to wish I'd put in the effort to start proceedings here in Canada, and demand half of everything--it would at least have defrayed the legal costs. But I'm just not a litigious person and I'd always rather come to a reasonable compromise than fight over every little thing.

To be honest, even though my whole life is in ruins and it will take me years to get back to where I was financially, all I want is my family photos--he can even keep my clothes if he wants, they're replaceable--and for custody to be decided here. According to what I've found out, that clause shouldn't even be in the divorce papers because there is no child yet, and I'm being so generous that his lawyer will tell him he's nuts not to accept it. If he doesn't agree, never doubt I will be asking for half of everything he owns. I'll need something to pay the lawyer with.
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Old Sep 10th, 2009, 03:32 PM   #7
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Default Re: Canadian citizen, American divorce, child custody?

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I would hope so! If you remember, please post back and let us know how it goes!

Your ex sounds a lot like mine. Pushing for commitment and "family" (getting preganant), then the REAL person came out in him. I lived with 3 years of hell after that. My ex uses HOT showers and lemon juice on our daughter. Weird...
I think if I hadn't been there to put my foot down, he would have gone way farther than just the cold showers and hot sauce. I'll admit, my kid is a total brat, but no kid deserves to have tabasco poured down his throat until he pukes because he said a bad word or talked back. For god sake, he's *three*.

The cops told me that prison guards have a higher rate of domestic violence and spousal abuse than the general population--I don't know if it's because the job turns them bad or because guys who like to control and brutalize people are attracted to that kind of job, but whatever the reason, I've seen it for myself. I spent five and a half months stuck in a house with no friends and without a dime in my pocket because he went out of his way to sabotage my relationships with his friends and family. And if my friend hadn't come to get me, I'd have had no way to get out when things got even worse--which the police told me was almost certain to happen.

Anyway, thanks for the support, guys. I'll let you know what happens.
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