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Joint custody father has concerns about welfare of children in mother's care; his options?


Your Question:
Hi Eric,

My boyfriend and ex-wife have 50/50 custody (three daughters, ages 14, 10, 8)). They live within 10 miles of each other and children spent 50% of their time at each home. Parenting plan is in place and works.

Older child (age 14) wants to move in with father. Father wants daughter's request honored. What is his next step? (Mother will never "allow" it.)

A little history: Before the custody hearing, (2 years ago) the mediator recommended 100% custody to father and supervised visits with mother. Judge ruled 50/50. There issues were mother giving the children alcohol, sleeping in bed with the 14 year old girl (at the time she was 12, and even now, still sleeps with her.) Mother was ordered to stop these activities. Mother was also ordered to attend some kind of alcohol awareness/rehab class, which she did. She still drinks every day.

More recently, she let the 14 year old drive her SUV with two younger siblings in the car on the city streets. This happened on three different occassions.

Child protective services has been called on mother (the mediator called them 2 years ago) and just recently the a teacher at school had called them.

There are other incidents of abuse (my opinion) which is why the daughter wants to move out. These will come to light when daughter tells her story.

My question: Should father petition for sole custody and during that process will the daughter have the opportunity to express her desire or does he just take his daughter to talk to the mediator/judge and they change custody from there?

Thank you.

I have found your website to be very helpful.

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My Answer:
Hi,

If everything you write is true, and nothing has been omitted, I think the father either needs to retain an attorney or retain a better attorney.

All the ingredients you outlined should have been enough for him to have been awarded sole custody. But something went wrong at trial, for reasons you didn't outline.

That said, there has been enough new stuff for him to go back and request a modification for sole custody of all three kids.

It is CRITICAL that the father build his case with solid, admissible evidence for everything you outlined. You want to corner this judge into seeing only one possible option, when ruling in best interest of the children.

Having an attorney with at least 10 years local experience will help.

The attorney can guide him in how to best position the daughter and how to best protect these kids.

If you two are lost on how to proceed, get a book or two that I recommend.

Because this judge may be biased (or not, since I really don't know what happened in that courtroom), the father may wish to sit in his courtroom for a couple days to see which experienced (i.e., perhaps at least a little gray in their hair) attorneys seem to be effective in front of this judge. Then, he can follow them into the hall and ask for their cards to later set up a consultation.

If you get the books and read them, if you hook up with an effective attorney, you could really be ready to file something in 4 weeks.

I'll close by saying that if the father feels that these kids are seriously at risk in their mother's care, he needs to do the work to ensure a good outcome the next time in court. The "work" is what I've outlined.

Good luck.

Eric





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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