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Fiance wants to know how to help her soon-to-be-husband in his long, drawn-out custody battle that seems hopeless

Your Question:
My fiance has been trying to get a divorce since 2003. two boys are involved. His ex walked out in '03, my BF scheduled a marriage counsling with ex, she went (by counseling document statement) she was unwilling to work things out. Ok, so they decided to go through mediations - less stress for kids. After 6-9 months of that process, both signed agreement with mediator. 1 month later ex decides to back out reason given: she did not have proper representation, according to the lawyer that both parties picked to do the mediations filing. Now ex wifes attorney??

Here we are now '05, CO homestudy and Judge was very reluctant to change anything in the mediation agreement(CO was '04). I became involved just to the point that I was requested to do the same testing, BF lives with me and my kids, and I am directly involved with his boys. I understand and have no problems.

During dating period,Bf and I decided that for all kids involved we wanted to wait 3 months before meeting kids, making sure "we" were serious, with $$ concerns we decided 6 months to live together in order to provide a more stable enviroment for all kids, notified ex before he moved in with me in writing, While in mean time, ex dated another - two weeks before she left(no proof, except by kids) continued through mediations,then started to date his best friend,(all noted in mediations) now kids call this new person (stepdad) ok, but confusing for kids... She moved in in May04 with her new BF, but still using her mom's as mailing address, BF has a phsy evaluation document where mom took older kid,(was not notified until court of this) done in Oct04. It clearly states, her BF occasionally visits. How can the BF occasionally visit his own house? My BF is being too nice and is considering not to show this proof(letter signed by ex in May stating residential address then Oct. she stated Occasional visits by her BF) He doesn't want to come accross negative, understand, but if he doesn't she will get full custody (she has told BF on phone that she would do this if she got full custody because she doesn't want him in their kids life. No proof but phone record of call.) I did alot of research for BF to show how he could address this concern plus medical concerns in a positive manner, have documents to back evrything up, plus eye witness names of some "hair raising" concerns for childs safety not being concerned by mom. The attorny agrees that he is being too nice and as long as he has proof then raise the concern as long as he sticks to the mediation agreement. My Question: He wants Joint legal/physical custody - 50/50 - (Mediation) ex wants Full Custody with estimated CS of $650 per month(one full paycheck from father) Would it harm case if BF wants Joint legal/physical custody with him being residential parent? This is not wavy from the mediation, but BF is already down in dumps "assuming" because is the "dad" he is going to loose his kids, his money and his life. Now this puts strain on us, but we deal with it step by step. South Dakota is known for custody with mom 98% of time. The attorney is very laid back and doesn't return our calls, I am lost on how to help ???

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My Answer:

I think it's awesome that care about your fiance and his kids. He should be the one leading this fight, not you. I know you want to help, but the best help you can provide in the custody matters is to be his cheerleader, not his leader.

I suggest that you buy him "Win Your Child Custody War", an amazing resource for understanding how to approach a custody battle. For convenience, I provide a link to it on my Resources page.

It sounds like you were careful in how you moved in together. Great. But it's largely irrelevant to the custody situation. Morality usually doesn't play much of a role in determining custody, so mom's shack up situation(s) don't matter too much unless there is a tangible threat or damage to the kids.

Very little of what you describe will have much bearing on a custody decision.

It wouldn't hurt his chances to see the outcome he desires by saying he wants majority of timeshare, no. But, he won't get it unless he can really lay out his case.

From what you describe, you seem to have a depressed fiance who is unmotivated to take charge in this. I don't believe it helps him to have you instructing him how to approach it, when you yourself are as inexperienced as he in such issues. I do know you're trying to help.

Yes, the whole thing is frustrating. Yes, it's slow. Yes, it's demoralizing.

Buy that book I mention, and I'd gamble that he (and you) will be enlightened as to how to change your tactics, how to handle your attorney, and how to build a case that gives him the best shot in court.

Knowledge and insight can change depression into empowerment.

For your own sanity and the sake of your future marriage, I suggest you really try to step back into the role of supportive spouse while letting a father take charge of his kids.

Good luck.


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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