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Father with sole custody wonders if unstable, addicted mother can try to change custody after 2 years

Your Question:
For the past 2 years, I have been the sole custodial father of my children (7 and 10). This order was due to my ex-wife petitioning for full custody due to change in circumstances (she married). We went through the custody battle with a Guardian ad litem. The GAL decided against my ex-wife due to prescription drug abuse, alcohol abuse, PAS, lying, and incidences of neglect, and recommended the children be placed with me (and my wife). My ex-wife did not show for the final hearing, she had cancelled her home investigation, and, in fact, could not be found by GAL (her lawyer had notified mine that he quit during the battle).

The order states "no visitation for petitioner at this time". Also, no child support was established. I applied with Child Support Enforcement 1-1/2 years ago and just last month was awarded $200 per month for the children (she quit her home-cleaning business last fall and is applying for disability, as she has applied for many years). At the child support court, my ex-wife stated to the child support attorney that "her attorney was working on "getting her kids back".

My question is if she is working with an attorney to gain custody, will I need to go through the whole custody battle as before? Although she has stated this claim many times in the past 2 years, even stated she was appealing, the 2-year mark is approaching.

I have enough recent documentation to show the children's best interest would not be living with her (license suspended last fall, 60 days of rehab but quickly falling off the wagon, stabbed current husband 3 times with knife in April '04, visits ex-boyfriend who is known druggie), but I need to know what to prepare myself and my finances for. She could be just blowing smoke, but you never know with her.

Thank you very much for your insight and advice.

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My Answer:

I don't get easy questions too often, so thanks for yours!

You mention the "2 year mark" a few times, and I don't know of anything particularly important about 2 years. It may be due to my ignorance, or may be just a number that you think is important.

That said, for an actual change of custody where you no longer have sole custody, she is going to have to show a significant change of circumstances regarding the children's welfare. So, unless you've recently started beating the kids as part of some odd religious followings, or unless you've been letting them spend time unattended with Michael Jackson, I can't imagine you're going to lose sole custody. I also can't imagine you're going to have to go through another custody evaluation if you and the kids have been doing well for a couple years.

I would imagine that her only viable option would be to convince a court that she's clean and sober and a responsible parent now. She could then ask to see the kids. The court will have to decide if it's in the kids' best interest to see their mother at this time.

However, I should emphasize that it is a very rare thing that a court orders "No visitation for a parent." You should have bought a lottery ticket that morning, seriously. Courts usually give a parent every last opportunity to see their children, and at last resort will order visitation to be supervised. So... understand that your situation was done BEYOND a last resort.

As you can't control any kooky thing this woman does, I wouldn't worry about it. Just because she says something doesn't mean she'll follow through, as you probably already know about her. Live your life, raise your kids, and wonder about how to explain to them why their mom isn't around. I don't think you have to worry about anything legal until the day that you get served with papers (if ever).


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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