I think I've been reported to child welfare

I’m not entirely sure where to put this, but if divorce stuff goes here, maybe this does too.

Well, first of all, the accusations (if they’ve been made) are groundless.

I am divorced, but I get along really well with my ex-husband (the dad). We live very close to each other, within walking distance, and our kids pretty much stay at either house depending on what they want and our schedules. This has worked fine, and the kids are happy. And my ex-husband and I are happy. Everyone’s happy. Except my mom.

She thinks that somehow I got “screwed” in the divorce. She feels like I should have “taken him for all he was worth,” which is stupid because neither one of us is worth much. She thinks I should have gotten alimony, and a child support order. But what really makes her mad is, according to the actual divorce papers, my ex-husband’s house (the house we lived in and he kept after the divorce) is our kid’s legal residence. According to her, “he took those kids from me, and I’m too brainwashed to know it!” Well, if he took the kids from me, that’s a shocker, because they’ve been with me the past four days. She wants me to contest the terms of the divorce, and force my ex-husband to pay to have me committed to a psychiatric hospital to get me un-brainwashed, or something. She didn’t tell me that last part, incidentally. When my ex-husband heard about her freak out, he went to her house to try and calm her down, since they’ve always gotten along really well in the past, and she told him then.

Apparently, somehow, she has decided that my ex-husband is going to take the kids and not allow her to see them. She decided this because she and I got into an argument, and I told her I thought she had anger management problems and I wasn’t sure if I could have her in my life if she kept flying off the handle about things. (if you’re confused, don’t worry. It doesn’t make any sense)

So, she’s decided to call the Child Welfare Authorities. According to her, my kids say I won’t feed them. God only knows what other crazy lies she’s invented. I’m sure I have nothing to worry about, really; they were just at the doctor, and they are healthy and certainly not malnourished or anything. She knows these things are lies; she was trying to threaten me into doing what she wanted. If she wasn’t so angry she’d see this whole thing is stupid.

Anyway, what I want to know is, I guess, what I should do. If they come here, should I tell them about all this, or would that make me look “fishy”? She also wants to keep seeing the kids, but I don’t want her to. I’m not sure what she’s asking them, or what she’s saying to them, and I’m kind of scared she might try to kidnap them. Is there anything she can do to force me to let her see them? I tried reading up on grandparent’s rights, and it said if they had a viable relationship she might be able to. I’m pretty sure she qualifies for having a viable relationship, but she also qualifies as a nut. Is there anything I can do to protect myself? And also, should I look into getting a lawyer? I really can’t afford one, and I feel like, since her accusations are groundless I probably won’t need one, but I’ve never dealt with these agencies before, so I don’t know.

Any advice would be appreciated.

My aunt was a case worker with CPS for almost 40 years before she retired last year. I wouldn’t worry too much. They are pretty good at seeing through the lies of raving loonies.

They may come by to chat and make sure you aren’t a crackhead or something, but as long as they see the kids are healthy, happy, and in good shape, and your ex-husband is supportive too, they’ll chalk it up to “raving loony”. It certainly wouldn’t be the first time they’ve dealt with wing-nut family members.

In all likelihood it was an empty threat (if she doesn’t want your ex to “steal your kids” then why would she want CPS to steal your kids?). And if she did call child welfare and said “My daughter’s ex has brainwashed her into being an unfit mother!” they’ll respond with :rolleyes:

I’m sure child welfare, if it does come to them checking you out, will find out relatively easy that your kids are being taken care of. And as long as you and your ex and your kids are happy with the current arrangement, I don’t see any need to mess with it. If child welfare contacts you and asks about her, then I guess you could mention that your mom has some issues with the truth, but I wouldn’t necessarily go into detail. Has your mom always been like this? I don’t think that grandparents can force visitation if both custodial parents are in the picture. Not to be nosy, but is your mom elderly?

I have to agree that if the mother feels everything’s okay, the father feels everything’s okay, and the children feel everything’s okay, then the unsubstantiated allegations of a grandmother are not going to get a lot of credence.

First take a breath and calm down.

Second I would do nothing. Wait to see if they contact you. Most likely it will come in the form of a letter informing you that they wish to visit the home or they may ask you to bring the children to their office.

Even if they have you bring them to the office they will still need a follow up visit to the home.

They can’t tell you who made the call but 99% of the time they know who did so I think you should discuss the fact that your mother is having issues right now.

I would not stop her from visiting the children but I would make sure they are supervised by you or their father.

I had childs services actually contact me about an incident that happened at their fathers home. Why they wanted to talk with me and inspect my home I have no clue. It angered me actually because I felt they should be visiting him while the children where in his home for visitiation.

It was a large hassle and it was embarassing to have a stranger in my home determining anything about me.

Again, I would just wait and see what happens. Even if she called that does not mean they will visit. If your mom sounded uhh “crazy” when she called they may not follow up at all.

Back when the kidlets were younger, someone reported us. We think it was a disgruntled neighbor. The thing is, anyone can report, and I spent a week in tears fearing I was going to lose my children.

Basically, you might get a visit to make sure you’ve got food in the fridge, the kids don’t have more than the normal scrapes and bruises, and that they’re happy, going to school, etc. There’s enough “real” cases of abuse out there that your case will probably be closed fairly quickly.

As for your mom, if you’re sure she’s the one who reported you, that would be it for me. You do NOT get to interfere with my relationship with my children and get away with it.*

Shut the door on her and lock it tight.

*(Has your mom always been this way? You don’t mention her age…is it possible she has some age-related mental illness?)

Wow!

Sounds like your mother is indeed a complete nutcase, she got some points. (if, godforbid, something were to happen between you and your ex’s relationship) he got the children due to the house.

But as it works now, it sounds like the perfect solution for a divorced couple and your mother is on the edges of completely ruining it.

Hopefully you and your ex can unite agains your mother to try and remove her legal rights and thereby strengthen both yours and his regarding the kids!

My ex and I have been there. (groundless accusations) Not the ex reporting me, someone reporting both of us.

A close friend of mine also went through this where the day care reported that one of his girls had a black eye. Unfounded. Kids play. Black eyes happen.

I’ll give you the same advise I gave him and he later he said helped greatly.

I’ll refer to the child welfare investigator as a she. All my experiences have been with women and most of them that I’ve had any knowledge of are women.
First and foremost, don’t get angry at her. She is doing her job and is not on a witch hunt. She has seen cases where children have been physically and emotionally wrecked and has to treat every case as if this were a possibility.

CWA has to investigate every report even if they know it to be bogus. This is federal law. They are also aware that reports are file maliciously or under mistaken perceptions. They try to close those as quickly and painlessly as possible.

She will be following a script that determines what she has to ask and do. Don’t get offended by it. Okay, you’re going to be offended. Don’t take it out on her.

Don’t ask her who reported you. She is not allowed to tell you.

Just be calm and patient. She will quickly conclude that the accusations are unfounded and will move to conclude the investigation as soon as she can. She is doing her job and there are children that desperately need her intervention. Help her get to them as best you can.

When Mr. AdoptaMom adopted my daughter from my first marriage, we included a “grandparent’s visitation schedule” in the legal filing for my ex-mother in-law. This, and our actions, spoke loudly and clearly that we respected her relationship and were agreeable to legally documenting it since (in essence) it would have been dissolved once my husband adopted her. (Her fear was that something would happen to me, he might remarry, and his new wife wouldn’t respect her right to visit her grandchild).

Would your husband do something like that for your mother? If I recall correctly, it was less that $75 to have the attorneys draw it up and make it a matter of record at the same time as the adoption.

I can’t speak about CPS, because I have had no involvement with them.

As for the legal aspects, if your mom presses for grandparents rights: a while ago, my parents wanted contact with my child. I contacted two law offices, both were very happy to talk to me over the phone (both times it was an assistant, not the lawyer), who briefly outlined the laws in our area, and what I should do to prepare, in case it came to me needing a lawyer. (BTW, my parents are utterly convinced that I walked away from them because I am mentally ill).

It depends greatly where you are, but in many places, if divorced parents are in agreement on who their children should & shouldn’t see, the courts will not usually force you to allow someone access. It couldn’t hurt to call a couple of family law places, get whatever basic facts you can for free, just in case your mom does take legal steps.

The biggest advice I got was to keep all letters, email contact, make notes after phone calls, etc.

If it makes you feel better to be doing something else, you could always be keeping grocery store receipts, keeping a log of meals, drs appointments, family activities, etc. If she’s suggesting you need a psychiatric hospital (Maybe she’s confusing you and her, there :wink: ), then there’s no knowing what else she might suggest or try.

Do you have a good relationship with your children’s doctor? We weren’t facing CPS, but my son’s kindergarten teacher was trying to railroad us into getting him labelled as ADHD and our pediatrician was willing to go to bat for us and get him a more thorough evaluation than he was going to get from an overworked school psychologist. It turned out not to be necessary since we were able to stall for a while and he had less neurotic teachers after that.

Okay, thanks already you guys. You are saying exactly what I hoped I would hear.

Yes, I do have a good relationship with my children’s doctor, and their teachers, and my neighbors, etc. This whole thing is so dumb! My son made straight A’s the entire year last year, and received an award for “Outstanding Behavior”. My daughter doesn’t start school until the fall, but her preschool teachers love her. I volunteer at the both places regularly; they know me well, and I know if they were asked they would have nothing but good things to say about me.

As far as my ex “taking the kids” because he got the house, first off, it would never happen. We just… don’t have that type of relationship. But even if he tried to, he would have to go to court because we have joint legal custody. His house is considered their primary residence; we did that mainly for school forms and whatnot, since at the time of the divorce I was in an apartment and I didn’t want to have to keep messing with their residency requirements. I guess we could have it amended now, but why? We’re both very comfortable with it this way.

My mom is not elderly or anything; what she is, is a bitch. She’s been this way my whole life, but this is the most fucked up thing she’s done to me so far. Neither my ex or I have ever restricted her time with the kids at all. She usually trades off having one of them spend the night every Saturday. She drives me nuts, but they love her, and she loves them, so I never felt like the problems between us needed to affect their relationship. But now… I just don’t know. She was horrible to me growing up; there was never much physical abuse (she slapped me around a bit as a teenager) but she was very cruel emotionally. She still is. She’ll be fine for a while, months even, and we’ll get along, and then BLAM! She’ll freak out on me. Whenever she’s having a hard time she takes it out on me and tries to make my life a living hell. And she is very persistent. I’m really pretty scared about what she might do. I wouldn’t be surprised if she accused me of sexual abuse, or something else equally awful. And who knows what she might tell the kids about me, or my ex.

I really don’t want her in contact with them right now. My ex is in total agreement about this (he knows how she is). I hate to do it, because it feels vindictive, but I think she’s forcing my hand. I think she might be a real threat to them, and frankly I’m worried about my own safety to an extent. At first this was a threat, like I said, and I guess she thought I would capitulate. When I told her no, she really lost it. I don’t think I’ve ever heard her so angry. She thinks if she makes a bad enough complaint, they’ll immediately take the kids out of our care and give them to her. I’m pretty sure it doesn’t work that way (right?) but I didn’t tell her, because I’m afraid of what she might do when she finds out this doesn’t work. Maybe by the time this investigation plays out, she’ll have calmed down (I hope).

Oh, and if someone does come to check things out, I’m not going to be mean to them or anything, of course. I understand they are just doing their jobs. It makes me so nervous, though! I feel like I’m waiting for the guillotine to fall!

I dated this guy for a very short period years ago. One of his “friends” had DCS called on her by the daycare that she would take them to during the week. The daycare called DCS saying that this woman was neglecting her kids – they had been brought in in dirty clothes, and had been sick to the point of running a fever for over a week. The “friend” claimed that these were lies and that DCS was called only because one of the daycare workers was jealous of her and wanted to cause problems for her.

Stupid ex decided that he would try to pull that stunt with me when I told him to hit the road. He called DCS and stated that I sexually abused my (then 4 year old) daughter, routinely did illegal drugs in front of her and never fed her. When DCS showed up, they told me upfront who had called and what had been said. They asked if they could come in and have a look around and possibly speak with my daughter. Of course I had nothing to hide so I said yes. They came in, looked around, talked to my daughter (without me present, I agreed to it) and asked me a bunch of questions about her health, who her doctor was, etc. I explained to them why I believed the ex had made such heinous accusations and they thanked me for my time and said that they would be in touch with me. I receieved a phone call a few weeks later letting me know that said ex was having charges brought against him for filing a false report and that I would not have anything to worry about in that respect again.

No big deal. If/when they show up – provided you have nothing to hide – co-operate with them, tell them what has happened and what your mother has said and don’t stress out over it.

I had CPS called on me once when my daughter was a toddler, probably by a nasty neighbor who got mad at me when I politely asked her to please not allow her daughter to regularly park her bike right in front of my front door (I couldn’t even open the door without hitting the bike). The CPS investigator asked he he could come in, told me a complaint had been filed but wouldn’t tell me who by. I told him who I thought it had been, but he just asked to see my daughter. She was taking a nap, and he went in and looked at her; she was wearing a sunsuit and not covered by a blanket, and it was obvious she was well fed, unbruised, etc. He took one look at her and told me point blank, “This child is not an abused child,” and thanked me for my time and left. I never heard another word.

I seriously think you and your husband should talk jointly with an attorney about drawing up a restricted visitation schedule for your mother requiring it be supervised, or blocking her visitation altogether, if she does indeed report you to CPS. As it is, you obviously have nothing to worry about, so please try not to! Your kids are lucky that you guys have such a great arrangement, and I suspect the CPS folks, if they look at it, would understand they’d be complete idiots to upset it. Most children of divorced parents should be so lucky!

Christ on a crutch, did we have the same mother by any chance?

My ex and I have a similar arrangement(for the last 9 years) to what you describe. We live a block from each other, have regular days where the kids are with one of us, have shared responsibilities/costs/etc. We’re both good parents, both of us get along. We’re perhaps fortunate to have loving grandparents on both sides.

I’m curious that you said(implied) you don’t have a child support order, if I read that correctly. How could you not? In Ohio, it’s pro-forma.

And, I reluctantly agree with posters who say get a court order against your mom. Terrible as it sounds, she has issues which you obviously don’t need. Out of curiosity, is your mom on medication, been diagnosed with a problem? Perhaps you don’t know.

I have to applaud you not taking money for the ex out of the divorce “just because”. Your mothers lines about your husband stealing the children and “you should take him for all he is worth” sound like a bad Lifetime/WE channel movie.

You have nothing to worry about, and certainly no cause to get a lawyer at this point.

Let me tell you my stories about CPS. When I left my youngest son’s dad when he was 5 months old, he called them and said that I keep guns in the house. Why he would pick that to say out of all the allegations he could’ve made, I’ll never know. CPS referred it to an agency called Family Builders, and I had a caseworker for 6 months. Dude looooved me, as he was used to dealing with a different kind of mother, and he helped me out a LOT. A new crib, a deposit when I moved, gift certificates for groceries, etc. He nominated me for parent of the month among his cases, and I won and got $50. He was awesome and we had a great relationship.

Then, 8 years later, said 5-month-old baby decides it would be cool to tell one of his little second-grade friends that his older brother had beat him up and I had called the cops and his brother went to jail. Never happened, and never could. But the school called CPS and they came out. Freaked me out at first- you never wanna see that business card on your door when you come home from work, but it worked out well. By state law, if they come to investigate an allegation, they are required to offer you services, whether it ends up being founded or not. So I got six months of daycare for him, which is worth thousands.

I used both of these situations to my own great favor. “They’re from the government, and they’re there to help.” Let them!

(Bolding mine.) Then let it be the last thing.

I’m going to give you some advice that will probably make your life a helluva lot easier. Cut her out. Completely, totally.

She’s toxic, and Og knows what she’s doing to your kids. For a grandmother to try to interfere with her daughter’s relationship with her children is the height of betrayal.

She’s lost all rights to them. Forever. Grandma’s are supposed to spoil children and feed them cupcakes for breakfast and give them loud toys to play with. They are not supposed to try to bust up their family on a whim.

Change those last two words to “forever” and you’ll be golden.

Miss Elizabeth, I’m so sorry that you are having to go through this! It sounds like you have been having a pretty emotional time of it for a while. You and your ex are going to have to decide what is best for your children, I just want to encourage that you do just…what is BEST for your children.

Things to consider…
You and your mom are angry right now. Your mom may not be a good mom, but it sounds like she may be an ok grandmother. Is there someone who can monitor her time with them?

Would your mom seek counseling??

You and your ex have been living this, so you KNOW all the details…we don’t.

So, the decision is yours.

I work with neglected and abused children. I actually train foster families. I have seen what happens when attachments are severed. I would hate to see their connection with their grandmother broken if there was anyway to save it. It doesn’t have to be the way it has been in the past…but, keep the connection if possible. Sometimes it’s not possible. I realize this.

I wish you the best! I also hope for you and your children’s sake she gets some help!

As far as the OP, it doesn’t sound like you have anything to worry about.

I would encourage you to document things.
Are you working? Are the kids in daycare?
Make sure your home is clean and that you have food in your pantry.
CPS may do some “research” on their own before they come to your home, that is why I asked if the kids were in daycare.

From what you have told us it sounds like a case would be found unsubstantiated and closed fairly quickly.