There is still hope
The lawyer that my fiance met with a few weeks ago got back to him after consulting with her "superstars" in the custody field. Given that we can't afford a lawyer at a minimum cost of $10k, she recommended that we pursue custody on our own! She said we have a rock solid case and there are free legal services at the local universities that can help us wade through it all. She said that money (or lack thereof) does not have to stop us from saving SD. So there's hope! We're looking into what the universities offer and going from there.
The other part that I'm a little bit fuzzy on is that she can't take his divorce case because of the complexity of the whole situation involving custody. From what I understand, if we retained her to close the divorce and then pursued custody, she would be obligated to continue representing him and given that it will likely be drawn out to kingdom come, she can't commit to that. I don't really get it, but whatever. She assures him that the divorce will be cake. She gave him the private number of her contact in the courthouse so we can be sure to get this four-year-long divorce c-l-o-s-e-d. Hey, at least this way we're saving the $2k or $3k retainer.
As for SD? We were so worried about her when she had that breakdown and wouldn't see or speak to us for a week. BF was horrified to see her exhibiting all of BM's (ill) behaviors - refusing to communicate when it doesn't suit her, being super manipulative by preying on loved ones' emotions - at the Family Based therapy appointments. We've always been so amazed and relieved at how little she models her behavior on her mother's, but we started to panic that this would no longer be true. It was so devastating. Then she came for our weekend together and she was delightful! Her usual loving self. And we realized that the only time she models her behavior on her mother's is when she's with her mother. All the more reason to get her the hell out of there! She needs positive role models!
BM did take a small step in the right direction recently though, so maybe these Family Based people are helping. This weekend is our weekend with SD, but her cousin on BM's side is graduating high school and apparently SD wants to go to her graduation party on Saturday. First gripe, SD should come to DAD not MOM to discuss scheduling conflicts on DAD's weekend, but at least BM came to him with 10 days advance notice to ASK him, not TELL him last minute. In the past, he would get a phone call on Friday afternoon at work where she would inform him that SD has other plans and would see him some time the next day/weekend/what have you. Then he would say no, I don't agree, then she would put SD on the phone in tears begging Dad to please do what Mom asked, and so on. So this IS an improvement.
We said yes, even though a)it's Father's Day weekend and b)we had plans with my stepsister and her family to meet at the zoo on Saturday and now SD has to miss out on that. I'm so disappointed because we planned this over 2 months ago and there just isn't another weekend we can do it, and SD *so* enjoyed getting together with them last time. They have a daughter the same age as our daughter and they're just a trip together. I hate that SD won't be there. But we're being adult about it and not putting any pressure on her because her cousin will only graduate high school once.
I would just like to point out that if the tables were turned and there was an important family event on our side on Mother's Day weekend AND they had special family plans that they had scheduled months ago, there wouldn't be a snowball's chance in hell of BM compromising with us. Hell, she wouldn't even compromise with us when we asked 3 months in advance for SD to come to her baby sister's first birthday party. She wouldn't even discuss it with us. Then she planned a vacation out of state during that time and said SD couldn't make it. Why does the high road have to suck so much?! I just hope that the next time something comes up on her time that we'd like SD to take part in, she'll remember that we cooperated with her this time. She'll forget, but you can be sure that we'll remind her!