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Never married father has no court orders in place; suddenly having problems with prior agreement

Your Question:
My fiance and I have been together for a year. He has a son 7 years old and he takes his ex's daughter 11 like she's his own and always has since she's been 6 months old. I have a 10 year old daughter. They've never had a court order but My fiance always had the kids mon, tues, overnight and everyday after school till 6:00 and friday overnight till sat at 5:00. Recently my fiance and I split up and his ex started calling me saying she still wanted me in the kids lives since they spent half the year with me and my daughter which was great. Well after about a month my ex fiance wanted to work things out and get back together, when he told his ex that he loved me and wanted to work things out she freaked and told him to bring the kids to her (it was a friday night, his usual night)and to get the clothes he stored there while we were seperated. When he got there she wouldn't let him go into the house to get the clothes and it got ugly. He called her a druggie (it's known by friends and family that she does drugs a lot but he has no proof, If it comes to it people could testify )She told him he can't see the kids till he apologizes to her. This is the 4th time in a year that those two fight and she holds the kids against him. He takes them to all their activities, doctors appointments. They were eating dinner at our house everynight of the week except for Sunday. He hasn't seen them in a week. He's a great dad and want his kids in his life,even the daughter that's not biologically his. He's the only father figure she's had her whole life. How do we go about getting joint custody? He's looking to get equal custody with no child support since his kids have exactly what they have at her house. Clothes, bed, bikes, every other month they split medication (son has ADHD) and we have them most of the time because he gets out of work in time for them to come to the house after school. Please help and tell us where to begin and what our chances are of having 50/50 custody.

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My Answer:

You wrote, "She told him he can't see the kids till he apologizes to her."

So, my first advice would be that he just suck up his ego and apologize to her. It really doesn't matter who's wrong or right, if that tiny little thing will restore access to the children.

I agree with you that y'all probably want court orders at this point, to eliminate the chaos and crazy-making.

I'd suggest that you restore some stability, get it back so that he's with the kids about half the time, all while you build your case.

Things to do:

  • Consider hiring a private investigator to document her drug use. If she's using illegal narcotics on a regular basis, and especially while the children are with her, your fiancee has an excellent case. But he needs the evidence that a PI can provide.

  • Build evidence and witnesses that show the frequency and degree of time that the kids have been with dad for the past X years.

The current incident is just one more thing that gets thrown into your eventual request for orders on custody.

When your case is ready (i.e., you have a compelling position due to the evidence you've put together), you'll file for a paternity action and request orders for parenting plan XYZ (where XYZ represents what he thinks is best for his child).

This is the approach for the child biologically connect to him.

On the other child, I'm not sure how that's going to work. Technically, he's stepdad, but he's raised her since she was an infant. You'll have to talk to an attorney in your state, to know if he has any ability to get court orders for access to this child too.

I think he'd benefit from reading "Child Custody A to Z", which I describe on my Recommend Books page.

As to child support, don't worry about it. The court will follow the formula mandated by your state, after the court makes orders on custody and the parenting plan.

As to your chances... it can go either way, and every judge has much discretion. If your fiancee doesn't prepare his case well, his chances go down.


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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