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Father lost custody after years, due to false accusation by mother

Your Question:
My husband had a son by a woman he was not married to on November 5, 1995. She left him on October 15, 1996 and refused to let him see his son for more than a year. He did not realize he had legal rights to his son since they were not married, so he paid his child support, but did not see his son. On Feburary 3, 1998, the mother called and asked if the son could come to live with him. He immediately agreed and on February 5, 1998, the son came to live with my husband and me. The mother rarely visited him. We filed for custody on October 13, 1999, and was granted primary custody. The mother abused the child during visitation in March 2000 and again in January 2001 and was placed on supervised visitation for 6 months in 2001 because of it. We began struggling financially in October 2003 and some other difficulties. I am also bipolar and had to change doctors due to insurance changes and was instructed by the new doctor to stop my medications as he thought I had been misdiagnosed. I was not misdiagnosed and stopping the medication caused even more problems and instability. The child's mother filed for custody and won based on her allegations of her own financial stability, my mental illness, and false allegations of domestic violence which she was not able to prove but the Judge accepted hearsay evidence that the mother claimed the child has said to the mother which was a complete lie on the mother's part. There was no attorney ad litem involved. During the time that the mother had been granted temporary custody, she again abused the child and the school reported it to DHS and it was found that she had abused the child, she admitted to abusing the child to DHS and the child's counselor and to the Judge but apologized and claimed to have just lost control this once (although she had previously been on supervised visitation) and swore it would never happen again. Since she was granted sole custody (beyond the temporary custody), we have discovered that she lied about her financial stability and she filed bankruptcy less than a year later which shows that she had not been making payments on her house or vehicles during the months surrounding the hearings and that her checking account had to be closed out the month following the final hearing with a negative $600 balance. I am now with a better doctor and back on my medications and stable. My step-son constantly begs to come back to live with us and tells us of abuse often, but the abuse does not leave bruises or marks... it is more emotional and verbal that we can not prove. We can not report it to DHS because we are accused of harassing her with them and the Judge believes her everytime even though the school made more reports in one month than we ever have and her own parents have reported her and reports have been made by other people on her other children (by other men) as well. My step-son is only 10 years old right now. My question is this... since the Judge believed that there was domestic violence in our home (although we have been married for 10 years and there are no police reports or medical reports or ANY reason whatsoever to believe it to be true other than my step-son's mother's statements), and the child abuse was proven the day she was granted custody... is there anything that we can ever do to be able to get custody back or to protect my step-son from the life he is living now? If not, what can we do to help ease his mind or make it easier when it is time to return him from visitation? As it is, he gets hysterical when it is time for him to go home and he often threatens to run away. His mother has stopped taking him to counseling even though it is court ordered. Contempt is not an option because every time we go back to court for anything, we lose more visitation time.

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My Answer:

Your husband needs to get educated on what matters in child custody. This situation has occurred because you were not prepared to deal with the slimey tactics of the mother. Look at my Strongly Recommended page.

I also recommend you purchase the book "Child Custody A to Z" by White, which is only my Recommended Books page. You need to start building evidence in a way that is relevant and persuasive to a court. Given your current situation, it doesn't appear that you and your husband have done this too well.

The one suggestion I have is to hide a video camera and record the boy's hysteria upon the prospect of returning to the mother. When setting it up and beginning the recording (outside of earshot of the child), announce the date and time. Set it up in a room where the child normally gathers with you before returning to mom. Then, he'll enter it and everything will be recorded. If you capture that it happens nearly every time, then you have strong evidence that can be brought to a child psychologist or custody evaluator.

It's up to YOU to get educated on how to change this. It's possible to regain custody, but only if you two really learn what went wrong, and how to fix it within the imperfect system of family law.


This website gives common sense advice that is not intended to act as legal guidance nor psychological guidance. The author is neither an attorney nor licensed psychologist. For specific legal guidance or specific psychological guidance, consult with a licensed professional.

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