In Oct. of last year my son's mother (we were never
married), sent my son (5)to live with my fiance, our
infant son, and myself. She stated reasons of not being
able to handle him, the fact that she lives in a bad
neighborhood, and that he was having a lot of problems in
school. I have this all in writing from emails that she
wrote. Even last week she wrote an email, stating that
sending our son to live with me was 'her idea.' I
immediately registered him in kindergarten, and anyone can
tell you that he's been flourishing in his new school.
Then a couple weeks ago, before he was scheduled to go to
her house for a weekend visit she says that she's not
bringing him back. So I didn't send him, and I contacted a
lawyer who drafted a custody agreement, detailing
everything exactly as it is now. He advised me to not send
my son to her house since he was in danger of being kept
there, and there is no court order stating that I have to
send him. My daughter, who lives with her mother (3 yrs ),
has still been coming over every other weekend. We've
never had any kind of custody agreement/order.
She said that she would sign, but then the next day went
down to domestic relations and filed for custody of both
children. She told me verbally over the phone that she
needed money. She's on disability for bipolar disorder.
She takes lithium for her mental disorder. She takes a
morphine patch for some kind of back problem, and i have
years of answering machine tapes were she typically says
something along the lines of "these are my f'ing kids, and
you will never ever see them again..."..and things to that
nature. My fiancee and myself pressed charges against her
for simple assault in 2 seperate incidents, and my fiancee
has a police report on file from her calling our house and
making terroristic threats against her. She called
Children and Youth on herself 2 years ago, and told them
that she couldn't handle the kids. They put her in
counseling and have paid for her daycare for 2 years.
Though she stopped that, this week, presumably because of
all of this stuff. She also stopped attending counseling,
and taking her medications, claiming that her caseworker
told her that she didn't need help anymore. haha. Funny
she's 'well enough' to raise children, but not to hold
down any kind of job. I can document that she didn't take
my son to dr's and dentist apts. An initial court date was
set for April. I'm assuming at that date, the court will
see that we don't agree, that we both want the children,
and then the evaluations, etc. will start. She has no idea
how costly this is going to be, and how arduous a process.
She thinks that when we go to court in April that the
judge will decide then and there. She has no lawyer, and
if she does get one, it will be through legal aid.
My question is this. I have desperately wanted both of my
children to live with me and my family since this whole
mess happened. But I could never tell her that because she
would have used to to her advantage and held it against
me. Now that I'm in this scenerio, where I tried to be
reasonable, and keep things the way that they are, but
make it official to protect both of us. I don't think that
she has any idea that I've been documenting her antics for
years. She has no idea what she'll hear about herself when
we're in court. She has nothing against me, except that
I'm an alcoholic who's been sober, and regularly attending
AA for 5 years. I've never once called her house and left
nasty messages, or any kind of emails or anything. I've
always (prior to the order being vacated when i got my
son) paid my child support on time, and spent regular
weekends with my kids.
I can document everything that I've said above. I know
that getting my daughter is going to be a long shot, but I
also know that courts don't like to seperate siblings. But
then again, I know that courts tend to favor the mother.
But that they also tend to favor the status quo.I know
that you can't predict the future here. But do you have
any idea of how good my chances are of at least not losing
You understand that I'm not an attorney, judge, child custody evaluator, or psychic.
Given that disclaimer, I think you'd have to find a fairly incompetent attorney for you not to get majority timeshare with your son upon a custody ruling. The ruling itself may be sole or joint, depends upon the judge, but what you've laid out places him in your care for most of the time.
Here are some concerns and additional thoughts I offer for your consideration:
- If you go to trial, you may end up paying some of her attorney fees. Ask your attorney about this possibility. It's different in different states.
- If all that you say is true, a thorough custody evaluation would benefit you for BOTH kids. Without one, I think you may have less of a chance at getting custody of your 3 year old daughter.
- If you're married by the time you have a custody evaluation and/or trial, your home becomes even more stable... so long as your fiance isn't a threat to the kids.
- If one's disability doesn't affect one's ability to be a parent, then it's a moot point. Drop it. You know she doesn't have a job because she's lazy, but the court doesn't care.
- I agree that you really have no choice but to disallow mom's contact with your son, due to her historical threats and recent one. However, you need to consider a defense to this. The court or a custody evaluator may view this as intentionally preventing the child from seeing his mother-- and that's not a good thing. Perhaps your attorney, in his correspondence in attempt to settle, could repeatedly state that a fast settlement would be ideal so that mother and son can be reunited for their quality time together.
- The longer you go with the current situation, the better for you (with regards to your son). It could potentially also aid the situation with your daughter, because the mother may not be able to handle it for month after month. But it may also be worse for your chances of getting majority timeshare with daughter.
- Keep in mind that refusing contact between son and mother may result in a retaliation of refusing contact between daughter and father. For this reason, your attorney may want to seek immediate temporary orders for the status quo and move for a custody evaluation at the same hearing-- one helps to lock in status quo with your son while taking a step to demonstrate which home is better for daughter.
- According to Marc J. Ackerman's studies (he's an established researcher on child custody matters), active alcoholism is among the biggest strikes against a parent getting custody. However, his studies conclude that evaluators and judges alike don't differentiate between a long-recovered alcoholic and a never addicted parent. You can demonstrate 5 years clean and sober (ever since oldest child was born), so moot point.
You know what's best for these kids. I'm a big proponent of parenting plans with approximately 50/50 timeshare where logistically possible, and in situations with two healthy parents. From what you've outlined, mom has some significant issues she needs to resolve before she's able to be a healthy parent. If what you say is true, and if I were in your shoes, I'd believe that I'd be pursuing majority custodial timeshare for both kids.
You don't need to tell anyone that you've always wanted the kids. Duh, we all want that. Don't ever make this confession, because then it may seem as though you've been plotting all this time (and now withholding the son).
Above all, don't show your cards to the mother. You should have the attitude of "mediation is best, but litigation may be necessary." If you can resolve issues in mediation, awesome. If not, you need all your ammo for litigation, and you should never let her know in advance what your ammo is. Let her discover in court.
Finally, you've obviously got your head screwed on straight, from the clarity of your writing and your clear thinking. You're someone who would really benefit from the book "Win Your Child Custody War." It's a monster of a book, but it will give you long-term strategies, tactics, and guidance on the one to two years it may take before you have a final judgment on child custody with your kids. For convenience, I've got a link to the book on Amazon via my Recommended Resources
By the way, you don't need me to tell you that you've got a real mess on your hands for raising two stable, confident kids. Go to bat for them 100%, and never give up, no matter how frustrating your court experiences will be. Courts are sometimes slow on decisions. The one thing possessed by every parent who has prevailed in court is never giving up.
Good luck, and please let me know how things go.
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.