Posted: Thursday, January 15, 2009 10:11 pm
Dear Annie: My 9-year-old son, “Felix,” is headed down the wrong path. This year in school, he has already stabbed two people with a pencil, clocked a boy and told some classmates he had a bomb. He is very defiant, talks back, never smiles, has no emotion or remorse for his actions and has few friends. He is also starting to be mean to his 2-year-old sister. He even told me he would be in juvenile detention before he turns 17.
Felix has informed me that he does not like my fiancé of four years. I’m at the point where I want to let him live with his dad full time. I told my ex that I want to get Felix into a local program for difficult children, but his dad says he doesn’t need it. Can you please help me before it’s too late? — Desperate Mom
Dear Mom: Your ex is foolish to ignore his son’s aberrant behavior. Felix has some serious problems and the sooner you can intervene, the better. We understand your frustration, but it doesn’t sound as if leaving him with his father will help. Talk to your pediatrician and the school counselor and ask for referrals to a child psychiatrist with experience in this area. Please call today.
Dear Annie: I belong to a coffee group and we meet weekly in our homes. We have great times, laughing and sharing family events, etc. However, we have one member, “Jane,” who, when it is her turn to host the group, suddenly has a conflict. She has to be out of town, she has a previous engagement, you get the picture. Otherwise, she never misses a coffee hour — as long as it is in someone else’s house.
Is this what one calls a freeloader? How can we get Jane to take her turn? — Annoyed Friend
Dear Annoyed: It’s possible Jane is a freeloader, but it’s just as likely she is embarrassed to have people in her home. You can handle this directly by asking Jane when she’s going to have the group over. Or, when it’s your turn, suggest meeting at an inexpensive coffeehouse for a change of pace and see if Jane picks up the baton from there. If she still won’t budge, you have to decide if you enjoy her company enough to keep including her anyway.
Dear Annie: I have more than 30 years’ experience in domestic relations litigation. Your statement to “Troubled Grandmother” regarding common-law marriage may give many cohabitating couples the wrong impression.
Only nine states currently consider common-law marriages to be legally binding so, for the most part, couples living together for many years are not recognized as being married. Five other states have grandfathered such relationships if they met the common-law marriage requirements in existence at an earlier time.
Second, common-law marriage states have fairly rigorous requirements. Living together, even for extended periods of time, is generally not enough. Usually, the couple must also hold themselves out to the world as husband and wife. (Filing tax returns as single taxpayers may be enough to disqualify the couple). Frankly, most cohabitating couples, in my experience, do not want the legal responsibilities of marriage and the accompanying entanglements.
Third, many cohabitating couples believe there is some stepparent status toward a partner’s child and that usually is not the case. In most instances, they have no better status than a baby-sitter.
Cohabitation is, with rare exceptions, not the same as being married — no matter what the couple wants to believe. If they do not understand that, unpleasant surprises may be in store for them. — Daily Reader
Dear Daily Reader: Thanks for setting the record straight. Readers who are curious about the laws in their state can Google “common law marriage” or contact their county clerk’s office or the local Bureau of Vital Statistics.
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please e-mail your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, P.O. Box 118190, Chicago, IL 60611. To find out more about Annie’s Mailbox, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
Published in The Messenger 1.15.09