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Stay-at-home disabled father wants custody, beginning divorce

Your Question:
Married 39 yr old father,starting divorce and custody of 1 yr old son.Disabled with bone disease stayed at home with my biological son and 3 step children all girls.Wife began to go out and stay out after disrespect and verbal and some physical abuse of 1 yr old decided to leave.Wwife agrees to give me custody Monday through Friday but refuses to mediate or put in writting ,all she wants to do is go to court and attend a parenting class.She is presently unemployed and recently adopted her nephew 3 months old.Seeking advice and resources,do to my disabilty i receive check once a month and have not been able to afford attorney

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My Answer:

Ideally, since you can't afford an attorney, you and your wife will mediate your issues. See if your county offers no-cost mediation services for child custody litigants, and continually encourage your wife to join. Consider setting up an appointment and advising your wife that you're going and you hope she joins you. Maybe that'll get her into the mediation session.

If you and your wife don't have a good history of cooperation, it's important to put things in writing and get them entered as court orders. It will prevent future conflict and disagreements about the original agreement.

If you've been the primary caretaker of your son, put together objective witnesses who can support that claim. This doesn't include your family members. It would include a doctor, neighbor, landlord, local nannies that you may see at the park, your wife's family, etc.

Have these people write affadavits (i.e., sworn declarations) about your parenting skills and how often they've seen you caring for your son.

If you need to go to court, you'll use them as evidence to show that you've been the primary caretaker.

I asked you the nature of your degenerative disease, because some diseases can prevent a parent from being a good parent due to restriction of movement, exhaustion, etc. You assured me that this isn't you. If your wife makes a big deal of it, you'll assure the court that it's well-controlled. The burden is on your wife to prove it.

If you get no movement on the case, you may wish to agree verbally to a Monday to Friday schedule that your wife offered. After you do that for a couple months, you'll have built witnesses (right?) who testify that you care for this kid all week long, every week. At that point, you can file for a hearing and lock in a parenting schedule where you have the majority of timeshare.

My preference is that kids have high access to both parents, so long as both parents are healthy and stable. Always do your best to encourage your son and wife to have much time together, and of course at the same time understand the reality that her life is crazy with 5 kids and home-jumping. There's got to be a balance that you always have to monitor.

Also look into whether your county has a "Family Law Help Desk" at one of its courthouses. Many big cities have something like this, where people help you fill out forms and answer questions. Keep in mind that sometimes you get what you pay for, so their guidance should be taken with a grain of salt as well.

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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