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November 6, 2000

Other Social Issues

Question from Spartanburg, South Carolina, USA:

I have two daughters with diabetes and am going through a custody battle. My ex-husband is using their diabetes as a weapon. I use a carb to insulin ratio and follow the doctors orders, but he still gets better levels. I notice that on the transition day that their levels bounce around. The girls show great anxiety about returning to their father's house as he has a very bad temper, and they are afraid of his anger (he punishes the older one for high sugar levels). He has been told that he over-controls their diabetes. I have not been told that I under-control. I don't understand why what works at one house will not work at another. My girls have expressed a great desire to live with me. I am very concerned about the psychological effects that this has on them. They feel bad enough having diabetes. I can't even imagine how they must feel knowing that it is keeping them from me. My oldest daughter has threatened to kill herself if I lose. Are there any documents that I can research to help my case? My ex-husband has a huge financial advantage. We have a doctor that says over-control is better, but has also told me that I am doing an excellent job. When all this is over, I need my girls to know that they are not to blame. I have told them very little about the case but, they still know too much.

Answer:

You raise extremely emotional and difficult questions that I am not sure I can fully answer. However, I do believe you should begin with the following:

Try to hook-up with pediatric experts in diabetes, preferably someone who is a mental health professional and a certified diabetes educator, to look at your case.
Try to have the courts mandate a custody evaluation. The person who would do such an evaluation will be paid for by the courts, so it will be an independent evaluation, where you, your ex-husband and your children will be evaluated.
Your children need a lawyer whose job is only to advocate for their best interests. This is called a guardian ad litum, and these folks are hired by the court.

JWB