How to deal with younger sister/bridesmaid's mother?

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aea1 Posts : 27 Registered: 10/10/10
How to deal with younger sister/bridesmaid's mother?
Posted: Jun 29, 2011 11:12 AM

Hi,
Hopefully you all can help me out on this. (Sorry, it's going to be long.)

I am extremely close to my 16 yr old step-sister (I usually just call her my sister) and have made her a bridesmaid in my wedding. Let's call her "Jessie."

Here's the background:
Our parents have been married since Jessie was 5. Our relationship with Jessie's mother ("Carrie") has been rocky. We had a lot of rough patches to work through in the first 5 years of our parents being married/being a blended family, but eventually it worked out and we were all very friendly & civil.

Carrie let Jessie stay for longer periods in the summer than the court allotted because she worked long hours & knew that we did more family activities. She let Jessie spend every holiday with us (She "doesn't do holidays," in her own words). She was flexible on switching weekends if we had a family vacation during her weekend or Jessie had a school function during our weekend.

Then, last year, Jessie started getting more involved in our church & basically re-evaluated her life. To make a long story short, she realized our family dynamic better suited her than did the one she shared at home w/ her mom. She chose to live with us, but was underage to make that decision at the time and we had a huge blowout...Carrie threatened to call the police on my step-dad for "kidnapping" because Jessie refused to get in the car to go home. My step-dad/mom took Carrie to court, but Jessie had to live at home while this was going on. After 4 months with still no court date, they dropped the case at Jessie's request b/c it was making more trouble for her at home.

Since then, Carrie has reverted back to the rigid visitation rules set by the family court many years ago. The flexibility is gone.

Fast forward to my question:
How should I handle scheduling for the wedding activities with this situation? Jessie will be 17 by the time of the bridal shower, wedding, and other festivities. My step-dad says she will be able to schedule herself, etc. but I wonder if I should approach Carrie to let her know plans, dates, etc. I have been thinking of sending her an email or private FB msg. Sorry this was so long, but I wanted you all to understand the situation. Should I send Carrie a msg? Leave it up to Jessie and/or my step-dad? Help!

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Aunt Posts : 794 Registered: 12/31/10
Re: How to deal with younger sister/bridesmaid's mother?
Posted: Jun 29, 2011 11:45 AM Go to message in response to: aea1

Dear Sea,

I am not a lawyer, but do participate on a legal/financial message board. I am an moderator in the financial section. I often read the legal side.

I can just imagine a message coming in that goes something like this:

"My ex and I are divorced and we have a child. We have court-ordered custody and visitation agreements, and have pretty much followed them. In the past few years, trying to be nice, I allowed the child to spend more time with her father, again just being nice. Well. My ex and his family turned her against me. Everything is 'wonderful' at his house and everything is 'terrible' at my house. My child now wants to go live, full time, with her father.

I responded by insisting on the exact court-ordered custody and visitation orders, but now I am considered a bad person. That's the thanks I get for being flexible in the past. No more. What can I do to prevent my ex and his family from bad-mouthing me to my daughter?"

Back to your questions. Is there any language in the court order that says that Jessie can schedule her own time at the age of 17? I have not heard of such a provision, but then I'm not a lawyer and far from being expert in this area. From what I have read, usually it's a hard cut-off at 18. A 17-year old is still subject to custody and court ordered visitation. An 18-year old is totally on her own.

Next issue: Can you schedule showers, parties, etc., so they fall during Jessie's court-ordered visitation time with her father? When she is on Dad's Time, she can do whatever Dad allows her to do.

Finally: Would it be possible for you to postpone the wedding until Jessie is 18? Would that be just a matter of a few months?

You need to talk to your step-dad. Working out his visitation time with Jessie is his problem, not yours. Ask him exactly what the court order says, so you can plan a shower, party, etc., to exactly follow the court order. Step-Dad could go back to court and get a court order allowing his visitation time to coincide with your wedding.

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MsDenuninani Posts : 3,962 Registered: 3/16/07
Re: How to deal with younger sister/bridesmaid's mother?
Posted: Jun 29, 2011 2:06 PM Go to message in response to: aea1

This is between you and your sister.

Personally, I'd talk directly to your sister and work out with her when she can be available for activities/parties. And I would try to schedule things as best as I could to accomodate that schedule.

Additionally, it may be worth it to contact her mother directly. This isn't about the parents -- this is about you and your sister. The mother isn't deciding whether to allow her daughter to be with her father -- it's about letting her daughter be a bridesmaid at the wedding. If you approach it, seperate from your father, you may have the best shot.

The mother here isn't completely unreasonable. She was faced with the very real possibility of losing custody of her child -- that's really really scary. Respect those feelings and you may get better results. You should consider inviting her to the wedding, too.

In fact, the more I think about it, the better I think it is to invite Carrie and Jessie out to lunch, just the three of you, and outline the schedule. Then you'll get a sense from Carrie herself where she stands and how flexible she's willing to be. And it's important for her to see you as a seperate individual, apart from your family.

But ultimately, I would handle it by myself, as an adult. Getting your father involved may only get the mother's back up. And, ultimately, this isn't his fight.

Edited by: MsDenuninani on Jun 29, 2011 2:15 PM

__________________________________________

"I'd hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, or insanity, but they've always worked for me." Hunter S. Thompson

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Aunt Posts : 794 Registered: 12/31/10
Re: How to deal with younger sister/bridesmaid's mother?
Posted: Jun 29, 2011 9:00 PM Go to message in response to: MsDenuninani

dear Ms D,

"And, ultimately, this isn't his fight"

So long as the step-sister is a minor, it is Dad's fight.

I agree, that it might be best to engage the step-sister and her mother separately, coming to an agreement as to step-sis' availability. That might work. If the OP gets along with the mother, then it may diffuse the situation to work directly with the mother.

Ultimately, however, parents have the right to control their minor children's activities. In the case of divorced parents, each parent's rights are spelled out in the court-ordered custody. Ultimately, it is the minor's bio-mother and bio-father, sharing custody, who decide where she is and when.

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VictoriaBennett Posts : 1 Registered: 6/30/11
Re: How to deal with younger sister/bridesmaid's mother?
Posted: Jun 30, 2011 2:52 AM Go to message in response to: aea1

grats

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fashionZEN Posts : 1 Registered: 6/30/11
Re: How to deal with younger sister/bridesmaid's mother?
Posted: Jun 30, 2011 5:33 AM Go to message in response to: aea1

This situation should be open to all.

fashion

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MsDenuninani Posts : 3,962 Registered: 3/16/07
Re: How to deal with younger sister/bridesmaid's mother?
Posted: Jun 30, 2011 4:18 PM Go to message in response to: Aunt

I see your point, but I still disagree.

The OP is an adult. For the father to get involved -- to ask that the mother relinquish custody on days that contradict an established custody agreement, is a waste of his time and resources. We're talking about a wedding. A wedding seems a foolish thing to alter an established custody agreement over. Particularly when you consider the time and $$ it would take to do so. No one challenged the agreement for 10+ years; a wedding is not a reason to challenge it now.

Again the OP is an adult. Respect the agreement currently in place and talk to the adults involved. It's your wedding -- not the father's. You have his permission for his daughter to be there. . .now you have to get the minor's mother.

Because, ultimately, she's not asking the mother for permission for the daughter to spend time with her father -- she's asking the mother for permission to spend time with her.

__________________________________________

"I'd hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, or insanity, but they've always worked for me." Hunter S. Thompson

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