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Author Topic: HIV and child custody  (Read 2588 times)

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Offline Casinokiwi

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HIV and child custody
« on: February 03, 2013, 07:20:57 PM »
I am new here.  Hello all.

The short story is that I am a heterosexual with three young children (5, 3, and 1).  I made the mistake of visiting a massage parlor in Houston while on a business trip about 6 months ago.  I was diagnosed with HIV in early October when I had an awful sero conversion that put me in the hospital for 8 days.  Luckily I didn't transmit anything to my wife. 

I may have been a really shitty husband but i am an awesome dad.  My wife filed for divorce and is leveraging HIV to get full custody.  There are two thing that i think i know... First, HIV doesn't impact how well I parent and should have no bearing on custody. Second, I am concerned since we are going to trial that the public availability of this information will negatively impact my children and potentially my job. My attorney told me either give up custody or be comfortable with the HIV becoming public.  I have a high profile job in the small city I work and it would be detrimental. I also live in a very conservative state where an uneducated judge may not understand HIV. 

I am concerned my kids will be made fun of at school or kids will not be able to play with my kids if it becomes common knowledge.  Again, some people are stupid.  I also would like to wait to tell my children for many years when they are mature enough to process it. 

Does anyone have any experience in this field?  I have an awesome doc who is also HIV positive and he said he would be happy to testify that HIV should have no bearing on the outcome of custody but I am still nervous.  Is there a way to go to trial and not have it become public information?  Has anyone been through this or something similar before?

Thanks in advance. 

Offline Mrmojorisin

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Re: HIV and child custody
« Reply #1 on: February 03, 2013, 08:22:43 PM »
 First off, welcome to the forums..

 I am not in the legal field, but it would seem to me that family court records would not be available to the public. I would think that due to the how young your children are that any court proceedings would not be public.  However, even if they were just because the info is available to the public does not mean that everyone will have that information. Usually one has to seek out those records. I do not recall ever seeing details of divorce proceeding being published in the local paper.
 I don't think your the parents of your childrens friends would discover your status..

Just my opinion, I would find another attorney. It would be his job to educate the judge on HIV if the judge is not already up to speed.
Started Meds On 5/1/2012 Norvair, Truvada, Prezista, and Bactrim

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Offline Jmarksto

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Re: HIV and child custody
« Reply #2 on: February 03, 2013, 08:36:40 PM »
Casino;

Sorry your are here, but welcome.

I went through a tough custody "negotiation" with my ex (pre HIV though). The short story is that we had a custody evaluation done - which was done by a clinical psychologist.  They interview both of you, visit your house, get letters from friends/family/support people and make a recommendation on custody arrangements. Both parties have to agree upfront, but if one party doesn't agree they don't look good to the judge either (judges generally like custody evaluations because it provides significantly more information and removes the tough work from them).

In theory this process allows for a more "information" to be processed by someone who better understands (as opposed to a judge) family dynamics (and hopefully HIV), and all of the information in the process is confidential to the psychologist. Not all attorneys like the practice (in part because they loose control and billable hours) so I am not surprised your attorney isn't looking at this as an option.

That may be an alternative approach, but it also costs a fair amount to do (but probably less than going to court).

I wish you well,
JM



« Last Edit: February 03, 2013, 08:53:24 PM by Jmarksto »
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Offline jkinatl2

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Re: HIV and child custody
« Reply #3 on: February 03, 2013, 08:39:57 PM »
Depending on how acrimonious the divorce, the knowledge of your status could indeed become public. Your wife can tell people, either in person or a whisper in the ear of your work associates, or at church/social network, et al. That genie is out of the bottle.

A good strategy is (and doing this sooner than later would be a good idea) to have your attorney convince your wife that ruining you financially in your community would bode porly for your children's financial upkeep.

But in the heat of the moment, with emotions high, anything is possible. The most important factor in this whole thing is your wife, and her attorney. While everything said above is absolutely true, ruining a person can take roughly four phone calls from your wife. It is up to yo to make certain that is not an attractive option. Sadly, this leaves you in a vulnerable position as far as the divorce is concerned.

While this happens, it wouldn't be remiss for you to begin investigating the notion of relocating to a larger city where your status will not be as much of an issue. Even if it means a commute to see your kids.

"Many people, especially in the gay community, turn to oral sex as a safer alternative in the age of AIDS. And with HIV rates rising, people need to remember that oral sex is safer sex. It's a reasonable alternative."

-Kimberly Page-Shafer, PhD, MPH

Welcome Thread

Offline wolfter

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Re: HIV and child custody
« Reply #4 on: February 03, 2013, 09:10:59 PM »
Since it appears you're dealing with a nasty custody/divorce battle, don't be surprised if she hasn't already announced your condition to anyone who will listen. 

Most divorce and child custody hearings are available as public records.  You can have your attorney ask to have portions of the files sealed.  I had that done in the early years though it was a waste of time.  My ex CHOSE to make life as miserable as possible.

I went for shared custody early on and was floored after the judge errored on the side of caution because of my status and ordered supervised visitation.  College educated and not a hint of a criminal record and I was judged solely on my infection.  This was quite a while ago and I hope courts have adopted better policies.

Take care and best wishes
Judging someone does not define them, it defines you. 

True peace is not merely the absence of war, it is the presence of justice.

Offline Jmarksto

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Re: HIV and child custody
« Reply #5 on: February 03, 2013, 11:21:03 PM »
Hey Casino;

I sent you a Private Message (PM) with a reference to a professional service provider.  I think you need 3 messages to get a PM, but if you are like me you won't know where to look for them or even notice that you have it (thus this message). 

JM
03/15/12 Negative
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Offline Casinokiwi

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Re: HIV and child custody
« Reply #6 on: February 04, 2013, 08:16:37 AM »
Thank you for the feedback everyone.  This site and the forums have been a blessing and a wealth of information. 

In terms of custody, my goal is to resolve the issue in mediation before our court date.  I am crossing my fingers but I don't expect my soon to be ex-wife to budge.  I have hurt her in ways that are not humane and you know what they say about a "woman scorned". 

Offline Valmont

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Re: HIV and child custody
« Reply #7 on: February 05, 2013, 12:49:55 PM »
I dont know where you are, but HIV is not a reason for as many other disease or health condition.  Im in a similar situation, my "ex"wife is neg...

Im actually trying to divorce.  Ive never have any problem to see my son.  My wifes lawyer called me some months ago to make pressure to increase the money I give her for my son and made a mention to my medical situation, I immediately told him to stop immediately using this kind of arguments because this is private life, that it is completely forbidden to disclose someone HIV status without my authorization and here the Constitution and some laws protects us for that and I could demand my wife for that, Ive never had any problem after that in regard with that...  Remember that at last, it is not interesant for anyone of both your status to be public and particularly not for your children...

You should look for legal assistance, in different parts, it exists special legal assistance for people with HIV...  Take care.
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Offline jkinatl2

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Re: HIV and child custody
« Reply #8 on: February 06, 2013, 01:26:10 AM »
Thing is, if you indeed were the only one to practice infidelity here, then you are going to have an uphill battle to have joint custody. Also, HIPPA only applies to your personal health professionals. Anyone else who knows your status can tell whomever they wish. This includes your wife and her attorney.

IN the USa, sadly, judges are often misinformed regarding HIV. You have a hope of getting one that's not, but depending on the location of the trial, it's not necessarily something on which you can depend.

I would certainly suggest that you start a college fund for your kids, and keep contributing to it. If nothing else, that might show that you are indeed a decent parent. Please forgive me, but I have a hard time calling someone who chooses unprotected sex via international massage parlors and subsequent HIV infection over a clean and honorable break with his spouse an "awesome" dad, considering the trauma your children are undergoing as the direct result of your actions.  You have to prove the awesome here, and only time can do that now.







"Many people, especially in the gay community, turn to oral sex as a safer alternative in the age of AIDS. And with HIV rates rising, people need to remember that oral sex is safer sex. It's a reasonable alternative."

-Kimberly Page-Shafer, PhD, MPH

Welcome Thread

Offline Casinokiwi

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Re: HIV and child custody
« Reply #9 on: February 06, 2013, 07:49:26 AM »
@jkinatl2 you are correct in that a poor decision of mine led me to my diagnosis.  It was a terrible lapse in judgement and like you, I suspect many will allow that 30 minutes of my life to define who I am.  People can have their opinions...  I know what i did was wrong but i refuse to let it be who i am.  Where I am not in agreement with you is here, that decision I made to go to a massage parlor does not have a single thing to do with my parenting skills or how I care for my children.  I suspect that most judges would side with you especially the judges from Arkansas which is where I live. 

Thanks for further defining the uphill battle I am facing. 

Offline jkinatl2

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Re: HIV and child custody
« Reply #10 on: February 06, 2013, 03:25:00 PM »
@jkinatl2 you are correct in that a poor decision of mine led me to my diagnosis.  It was a terrible lapse in judgement and like you, I suspect many will allow that 30 minutes of my life to define who I am.  People can have their opinions...  I know what i did was wrong but i refuse to let it be who i am.  Where I am not in agreement with you is here, that decision I made to go to a massage parlor does not have a single thing to do with my parenting skills or how I care for my children.  I suspect that most judges would side with you especially the judges from Arkansas which is where I live. 

Thanks for further defining the uphill battle I am facing. 

Yeah, I get called a giant asshole on these forums a lot.

"Many people, especially in the gay community, turn to oral sex as a safer alternative in the age of AIDS. And with HIV rates rising, people need to remember that oral sex is safer sex. It's a reasonable alternative."

-Kimberly Page-Shafer, PhD, MPH

Welcome Thread

Offline klassykitty

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Re: HIV and child custody
« Reply #11 on: February 06, 2013, 04:54:10 PM »
Casinokiwi,

Like Valmont said there are lawyers that help people with HIV, check with your local ASO, or even your caseworker at your doctors office (if your doctor has a caseworker).

I agree with you in that your HIV should have no bearing on your custody stuff, but as you said  "a woman scorned". 

good luck.

Michelle 8)

A true gentleman hold the door for his woman.
Then he smacks her ass!
Diagnosed 01-20-2011
01-23  CD4 32    VL 125,400
02-18        76     VL 189
03-14  no cd4 test done   VL-52
04-14   69  VL-UNDECTABLE  YEA!!
05-26   50  whoopsy  
06-27   71        %-7
08-15   64 WTF %-9 
10-16  80         %7  
2012  CD4  %Thing   VL-UD
01-18  87    7
04-18  93    8  
07-16  151  8         
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2013   CD4   %thing       VL-UD
01-28  121     9
04-24  148    11   
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Offline Miss Philicia

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Re: HIV and child custody
« Reply #12 on: February 06, 2013, 06:10:57 PM »
@jkinatl2 you are correct in that a poor decision of mine led me to my diagnosis.  It was a terrible lapse in judgement and like you, I suspect many will allow that 30 minutes of my life to define who I am.  People can have their opinions...  I know what i did was wrong but i refuse to let it be who i am.  Where I am not in agreement with you is here, that decision I made to go to a massage parlor does not have a single thing to do with my parenting skills or how I care for my children.  I suspect that most judges would side with you especially the judges from Arkansas which is where I live. 

Thanks for further defining the uphill battle I am facing. 

Good luck in this working out for you as I'm sure you feel in a torturous place right now. Take care to keep your sanity in check through the process.

And, you know, 99% of us got here by doing things we wish we hadn't done so it is what it is. Can't change the past but only move forward, perhaps making more errors but hopefully less. The great thing about life is that at some point if we make the most of it we can locate something, somewhere, or someone that provides a second chance if that is necessary.

At any rate it's good for you to write things out here, even if they are raw and personal, if you feel it helps to explore what feelings you are experiencing.
"Ive slept with enough men to know that Im not gay"

Offline tednlou2

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Re: HIV and child custody
« Reply #13 on: February 07, 2013, 01:19:31 AM »
Casino,

Obviously, I don't know you, or know what kind of dad you are.  This made me think of my own dad.  He was an alcoholic, didn't work, spent all the money on beer, broke my mom's nose, and watched as my brother and I were taken away to a children's home.  We were there until my aunt came to get us.  My mom finally moved to Indiana, where we were at my aunt's.  My dad came a few month later, claiming how he was changed and wanted to get back together.  I was about 6 then.  I remember wishing my mom would not take him back.  But, she fell for it again.  I spent until the day I turned 18 living with a drunk, police called, be wakened at 3am with some drunken tirade, and afraid to have friends over, or even call the house. 

Now, that was traumatic and is responsible for many of the issues I have today.  If you love your kids, support them, read to them, tell them how much you love them, attend school functions, then you are an awesome dad.  One mistake at a massage parlor doesn't change that.  Hell, I wish my dad had one fuck up.  Two of your kids are too young to even realize what divorce means.  The 5 year-old will know things have changed.  But, hopefully, no one is telling him/her about the massage parlor or HIV.  He/she will adjust to having parents living apart.  It is often older kids, who have problems and feel they must take a side. 

So, if you take care of your kids emotionally, physically, and financially, then you are an awesome dad in my book. 

Offline mecch

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Re: HIV and child custody
« Reply #14 on: February 07, 2013, 06:23:24 AM »
So many people in the world and including many people in this forum have a ways to go to emptying the HIV virus and the HIV+ status of moral significations. 

 Casinokiwi, you are in a truly rotten situation and one that is unfortunately common - someone gets HIV, one of the nastiest STDs around - and (1) that HIV+ person, and too many people connected to that person (2) have major freakouts. The dust settles on damage and destruction that was useless, avoidable, and entirely the result of people and cultures that simply can't manage calm reasonable reaction. 

I guess we HIV+ people can only control our own freakouts, and slowly slowly contribute to the lessening of stigma and discrimination practiced by HIV negative people, and their cultural judgements and legal punishments.

Its 2013, and all this drama about a virus is so Goddamned primitive.  Its like the stupid ass wars raging on because of "religion". 

People can be such dumbasses.  Protect yourself, rise above this mentality, even when stigma and discrimination are causing you personal pain and loss. 
« Last Edit: February 07, 2013, 02:21:44 PM by mecch »
From each, according to his ability; to each, according to his need 1875 K Marx

Offline emeraldize

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Re: HIV and child custody
« Reply #15 on: February 07, 2013, 02:01:46 PM »
In terms of custody, my goal is to resolve the issue in mediation before our court date.  I am crossing my fingers but I don't expect my soon to be ex-wife to budge.  I have hurt her in ways that are not humane and you know what they say about a "woman scorned".

If she's never been in a legal proceeding like this -- she doesn't know how uncomfortable it may be. Mediation would be a great way to go. Somehow, she needs to be able to see that causing you to have your status outed will only hurt the whole family. You didn't note your court date, nor should you, specifically, but is it a month from now? two weeks?

I agree with JK that the blowback from financial ruination for you would be as if she gave herself a dose of FIV (fantastically income-deficient virus). That coupled with the non-sympathetic, but perhaps small town scared to touch you, date you, cause you were with him syndrome and oh yes, if your kid nicks his knee on the soccer field and stares at my kid, we're next to get leprosy perspective.

Apologize to her and strategize with her -- the kids should only find out when you and she decide you want them to find out.

There are OODLES of HIV positive parents in the world and you're absolutely correct, being positive has zero to do with parenting. You're a smart man -- do a literature search.

I agree -- do everything you can to mediate this agreement and avoid court.  The rinsing out of cash has begun for both of you -- it will only get worse.

best of luck,
em
« Last Edit: February 07, 2013, 02:12:46 PM by emeraldize »

Offline karry

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Re: HIV and child custody
« Reply #16 on: February 07, 2013, 02:36:34 PM »
Hi Casinokiwi
Reading your posts and seeing how genuinely concerned you are about your kids, make me believe you are a great dad! Like someone said already, and I echo it, one fuck-up at a massage parlor does not make you a bad dad!

My dad was never there for me....he just did not care.When my mum took me away, he never tried to have me, or even come to visit me. However, my mum kept telling me that her relationship with my dad and his fuck-ups (numerousely countless) had nothing to do with me.


I just hope that parents could keep their spousal relationships between themselves, and not extend it to kids and use the kids as weapons against each other.

I hope you come out of this still being able to spend time with your kids and being the good dad you are.
Goodluck.
Karry
« Last Edit: February 07, 2013, 02:43:25 PM by karry »
Take it a day at a time....and be positive about it too!

Offline emeraldize

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Re: HIV and child custody
« Reply #17 on: February 07, 2013, 02:48:34 PM »
Start a folder.  here's a document to read and have for reference.
http://aidsgulf.files.wordpress.com/2011/10/confidentiality-and-custody.pdf

and another...
http://www.rand.org/pubs/research_briefs/RB9372/index1.html

and another, while 2007, you want to vacuum all salient info within them...
http://www.health.am/aids/more/hiv-positive-parents-are-not-in-their-custody/

here's something to shape the discourse with your wife...
http://www.thebody.com/content/art30499.html

misunderstandings are not unique to the US or Texas...nor is enlightenment...
http://jurist.org/paperchase/2010/01/russia-court-grants-child-custody-to.php

ya gotta know the crappiest outcomes, too...
http://ww1.aegis.org/news/suntimes/2006/ST060511.html

probably the best resource and one you might consider phoning...
http://www.hivlawandpolicy.org/resourceCategories/view/6

and, hopefully, I've inspired you to take this list a tad further.
Em
« Last Edit: February 07, 2013, 02:55:42 PM by emeraldize »

Offline Joe K

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Re: HIV and child custody
« Reply #18 on: February 07, 2013, 05:18:09 PM »
Hey Casino,

I'm a poz parent with the same story as yours.  I'll be honest, you are both in for a world of hurt, however, you need to make some things very clear to your soon to be ex-wife.

She needs to be reminded that while it might make her feel good, trashing you and exposing your status, will only serve to reduce any potential you might have to provide adequate child support for your children.  Also, the stigma of the disease will engulf both your families and friends.  As angry as she is, hopefully she can step back a little and see how damaging this can be for everyone involved.

I would also suggest, that if required, you use your doctor to provide expert testimony on the status of your health and the fact that being poz does not diminish who you are, as a person or as a parent.

I wish you the best of luck.  In situations like this everybody loses, the goal is to minimize both your loses and to do what is right for your children.

Joe
Life is what happens, when you are busy making other plans.

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Offline emeraldize

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Re: HIV and child custody
« Reply #19 on: February 07, 2013, 06:16:14 PM »
Why not share Joe's post with your wife?

Offline Casinokiwi

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Re: HIV and child custody
« Reply #20 on: February 08, 2013, 10:08:47 PM »
As corny as this will undoubtedly sound, you guys are awesome.  These boards are so supportive and provide such a wealth of information and humility that I find myself mesmerized by everyone.  This group is so intelligent and strong and I am proud to have a loose connection with each of you.

I am sad to admit that 5 months ago I was one of those idiots who stigmatized HIV.  Life has a funny way of opening your eyes and humbling you.

Joe, em, karry, and everyone else that posted, I just want to say thank you.  Joe, i will certainly print what you posted and share with my soon to be ex. 

I go to mediation next week and have a preliminary custody hearing in early march. The final divorce proceeding is scheduled for early June.  I am haunted by the potential outcome. 

I went to see a therapist today and I explained what is really bothering me is that my kids don't deserve any of this.  I think I have come to the conclusion to settle even if it means I get only weekend visitation rights.   The thought that some friend of my child would not be able to play with my children because of my status or that my kids would be forced to listen to other kids make fun of their dad is not fair to them.  I have broad shoulders and can deal with it but they don't need to be exposed to that.

I have a great job and do well financially and I am sure I will take it in the shorts through the divorce.   This whole process has opened my eyes to what is really important in life.  It just sucks I learned not to be selfish a bit too late in life. 
« Last Edit: February 08, 2013, 10:11:02 PM by Casinokiwi »

Offline emeraldize

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Re: HIV and child custody
« Reply #21 on: February 08, 2013, 11:10:42 PM »
Doesn't read as corny at all. And, you will do the same for someone some day.

By the way, make sure to get your lawyer on board in terms of education so the two of you are a unified front. An under-educated lawyer can unintentionally undermine regardless of the topic at issue.

Please let us all know how it goes for you.

Offline Joe K

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  • 30 Years Poz
Re: HIV and child custody
« Reply #22 on: February 08, 2013, 11:16:28 PM »
I have a great job and do well financially and I am sure I will take it in the shorts through the divorce.   This whole process has opened my eyes to what is really important in life.  It just sucks I learned not to be selfish a bit too late in life.

Hey Casino,

There is one issue that only you can address.  At some point, you need to accept your responsibility regarding what is happening and stop seeing this divorce as a way for the ex to stick it to you.  Look, I've been where you are and the ugly truth is you fucked beyond major and while you might not deserve everything that may happen, in the end you brought this upon yourself.

I'm not getting down on you, only warning you to not become a victim, or worse a martyr.  This is going to be one of the most stressful times of your life, so take it slow.  Really think about your role in all that is happening and please don't let your ex become an enemy.  Yes it will take time, but for the sake of the children, you don't want to be at war while they grow up.

Try to begin to understand that you made a mistake and that's what we humans do.  At some point, you will need to forgive yourself for what is happening, because if you don't, you will forever be a slave to this one mistake.  A time will come when you will see this all more clearly, so don't forget to take care of yourself as well.  As with most troubles in life, eventually this too will pass.

Joe
« Last Edit: February 08, 2013, 11:20:48 PM by killfoile »
Life is what happens, when you are busy making other plans.

Though you may be only one person in the entire world, to one person, you may be the entire world.

I wish to become half the man, that my dog thinks I am.

Remember me with simple acts of kindness and I will live forever.

 


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