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DH considering going from 0 custody to full custody.

Mermar90's picture
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I'm sure you could go back and read my past posts but I will quickly summarize if you need it.

DH has zero custody (we didn't have the resources but did want more custody but BM was cooperating with visitation time so it worked out). BM started abusing pain medications. We just learned she OD'ed late 2019 and stole oxycodone and started abusing that in early 2020. She got caught and is currently serving 6 days in jail time (went from 20 days, to 10, to 6). She will be on probation for the next 10 years and is considered a felon.

BM did quit using months ago, is part of a rehab program, and is cooperating with drug tests and counselors.

DH has had enough though, he wants to push from zero custody to full custody. Besides the things I mentioned, we also have evidence of lying/withholding information that could be impactful to SD (14). A history of leaving SD alone with BM's new romantic partners. Evidence of an unwillingness to cooperate in a time we were concerned about SD's wellbeing. Concerns about potential relapsing (BM admitted she might go backwards before she goes forwards). Concerns about BM's mental health and lying/trying to cover it up (she admitted on a social media platform about going a month without showering but never talked to us). 

Not to mention SD claiming she wants to be away from her mom more. Is actually considering, all by herself, the thought of living with us instead of her mom. Her mom doesn't understand her, won't listen to her, overworks her, forces her to do extracurricular activities that she doesn't like anymore. She also claimed she felt unsafe one night when BM and BM's boyfriend were screaming at each other and says she is afraid they will do it again. 

But I'm wondering, is all of that enough to get full custody? There is no actual evidence of child abuse or anything... Or maybe some of that is considered abuse. Or maybe at least negligence, I don't know. I suppose an actual lawyer would be able to tell us but I'm just trying to get a grip on all of this before talking to a lawyer.

tog redux's picture

In my opinion, no, that's not enough to get full custody. But DH should at least start the process to have some amount of legal custody rights and go from there. BM might be less likely to fight as hard if he doesn't go in trying to take her away entirely, and might make an agreement that won't cost you a small fortune in attorney's fees. 

Mermar90's picture

He definitely wants to get some sort of custody, and I want him to as well. But as of late he seems really bent on getting full custody. He has talked to SD about it and she seems like that's what she wants to. Even if she made her opinion known to the court, you don't think it would be enough? The plan would be to allow BM some custody, of course. But I already know she would fight it, and why wouldn't she? So yeah, it would take time and would be expensive...

DH keeps telling me he wants to see what a lawyer would say about our situation, and I guess that's fair enough. But I think he's in a little bit of denial about all of this. He wants it so bad and thinks he's so right that he can't see how the court might be tough on him and not just hand SD over like that.

tog redux's picture

Some places put a lot of weight on what a kid wants. But that means BM may try to influence SD and bribe/manipulate/threaten/alienate to get her to change her mind, and that can work really well. It's not fair to put that weight on kid, nor is she old enough that she should be able to make that choice. I'd go for 50/50 legal custody and see what comes of that. Some BMs fight to the death to keep what's "theirs". 

Harry's picture

SD has to be damaged. With all what's going on. Having SD will not be all fuzzy and good.  It may destroy your marriage.

You really have to think about it.  You MUST with DH make up a set up a list of rules and and punishment.  Like cell phone taken away for X days ect. Not 10 minutes.  Or else you will lose all control of your home.  SD will be in charge 

Mermar90's picture

You do have a point. I do know it would be tough and I've thought about it. Fortunately a lot of her so-called "damage" is out in the open. We know she has ADHD, depression, anxiety, and she takes medications and goes to a therapist for those things. Over the years we've learned how to adapat to those things and have been making it work, even for those periods of time where we've had her for a whole week or more.

Her dad is already pretty strict but we would definitely have to create more rules and boundaries so that we are all on the same page. 

I guess part of me is enjoying being able to help her, now that she's older. She's matured a lot in just the last year, it's really weird. She's still really immature for her age, but just the slight increase in maturity has made it easier for me to understand her and find a lot of joy in helping her.

Dogmom1321's picture

Going from a week vacation to living with you full-time is NO COMPARISON. Don't fool yourself into thinking they are similar. The honeymoon stage wears off. It's not just fun and games. It's schooling, rules/consequences, social/emotional well-being, financial changes, etc. Be sure YOU want some type of custody too before your DH goes sinking (yes) TENS of thousands of dollars into a court case that could very well last over a year... on a child who is already in their late teens...

Winterglow's picture

You also need to be on the same page as yoiur DH as regards discipline, schedule, consequences, chores, boundaries, etc. Make sure he doesn't get to play Disney daddy in your home.

justmakingthebest's picture

I don't think he will get full custody if she is sober now, BUT he needs to try. Maybe they can settle on 50/50 or at least joint custody of SD. The fact that she is 14 and your DH never attempted to do things right/legal is concerning. However, better late than never and once something is established if BM messes up again, he will have a much better shot, especially with SD's age- IF you want to go down that road, that is. 

Mermar90's picture

I agree with you. I don't know how to get my DH to back down a little bit and go for joint custody at first, where he would be able to legally see her every weekend, if he wanted to try for that. And then, like you said, that custody would be established in case anything else were to happen.

DH says he wants to see what a lawyer would think of the full custody plan before deciding, which I guess I can let him do. However, I am a little bit concerned that a lawyer might make our odds seem better than they are so they get paid more... I wonder if that happens?

BethAnne's picture

Talking to a couple of lawyers will be the best next step. They will likely give him a more realistic view of what he could get by going to court. 

Make sure he gets references for lawyers and talks to a few to get an idea of who is being realistic and who is full of BS looking to up their fees.

justmakingthebest's picture

Of course it happens. The only people to ever "Win" in family court are the lawyers. Hell, we have had one open case going on 3 years now with no final resolution. Over 70K in lawyer fees. They will tell you what you want to hear, at least at first. 

Dogmom1321's picture

Yes, it is a money pit! Court is something people pay a ridiculous amounts of money for hoping it will "change" past mistakes. Rarely happens and lawyers are the only ones that come out on top. 

Our custody case took almost TWO YEARS. Years of stress, fees, meetings, and walking on eggsshells. It is emotionally and physically EXHAUSTING. Do you really want to subject yourself to all of that? When we finally got a ruling from a judge (not the outcome we wanted) we were both SO RELIEVED, because it was just finally over. 

Rags's picture

Not without your agreement.  If he wants to maintain your marriage, this is YOUR call. Not his.

Regardless of what a Judge decides.

ESMOD's picture

I'm not so certain that is a fair stance to take.

If the court finds that the girl's home is unsafe and awards her husband full custody then her call is whether she stays with her husband or leaves him.  He has a primary responsibility to care for his minor child in that scenario.

But.. is it her call whether her husband tries to seek full custody?  The answer is maybe. 

If there is truly a concern that the girl's living environment is unsafe and will continue to be unstable and dangerous.. her husband really has a moral obligation to save his daughter from those dangers.  In that case.. again.. his wife asking that he not seek full custody and leave his daughter in a bad situation is wrong.. wrong for him to listen to her.. and wrong for her to ask that of him.

However, if the BM has entered into recovery and the risks and issues are in the past.. there is no guarantee that they will reoccur in the future... so in that case.. it would be in the wife's favor to have a say whether he seeks full custody or not.  But if the issues become bad in the future... then we go back to a place where again... he is obligated to do what is right for his child to keep her safe.  

In this particular case, the girl is old enough to communicate with her father... and certainly, he should try to have some regular contact/visitation with her at a minimum so that he has a better handle on what is happening with her when she is at mom's.  He is a father full time whether he has actual custody and maybe he needs to strike up more communication with his daughter so that he is aware of problems if they crop up again?  My DH used to have quick calls with his girls at least once a day.. not long drawn out.. but a quick.. hi.. how ya doin... love you type of call.. 

Hopefully BM has turned a corner.. but addiction is hard... and the girl's father needs to be prepared to step in and be there for her if things go bad... and his wife needs to understand that is part of being married to a man with a child.  His ex could literally DIE... and then he would be the only choice for custody... so it's not necessarily something that is a choice.. not in this type of situation.

Dogmom1321's picture

No way a judge would ever flip something to the extreme. Your DH can try to get SOME custody, but no way a judge would ever go to 100% without BM. Even if that's was SD wants... they might take it into consideration and give DH more time, but they would not just terminate everything from BM, especially if she's sober now. 

Wicked stepmo.'s picture

You life would change dramatically having SD full time and you have to ask yourself what it would be like when the honeymoon period ends.

That being said SD being 14 the courts usually favor the child's request at that age.

advice.only2's picture

He could have gotten full custody had he done something when he found out she was arrested, but that time has passed. The courts like to believe that once a drug addict has served their time they are no longer a problem.

Honestly I think your DH just gives lip service and he really has no want to have his daughter at all, he would rather allow her to be raised by a drug addict felon and her 25 year old boyfriend. His choice of course, but wow doesn't speak much to his character.

advice.only2's picture

Dup

Harry's picture

None of yoiur money goes to this case.  Nothing is like spending tens of thousands of your money then to he told. You are not my mother, I hate you, it's all yout fault 

Dogmom1321's picture

Exactly... especially since the kid is already 14. Hate to say it, but ALL of that money would be for what? The next 4 years MAX? I can see custody battles being important when kids are really young... their upbringing can change their course of life... But let's be real, any MAJOR issues that are there at 14, more likely will not be changing anytime soon. 

ESMOD's picture

In a way though.. this wouldn't be about him trying to avoid 4 years of child support. if there truly is a safety issue at her mom's he has an obligation to take her with him.  If it is a clear hazard, I would think that trying for custody would not be too terribly difficult with the court.

but OP doesn't need to pay for it of course.

Dogmom1321's picture

Agreed, I just figured a LONG time has passed since early 2019... Especially if BM has turned things around. I don't see a judge punishing her (custody wise) for something that happened almost 2 years ago...

Also, didn't mean about child support... just weighing options of spending $10,000 for a result that will only last until child is 18. 

charlieskeeper1's picture

In my experience of court as  Biomum & Stepmum,, where wellbeing/safeguarding issues are evident & a child of this age wants her living arrangements to change, the professionals involved will listen to her. She is of an age where her opinion counts A LOT  If the professionals deem the situation serious enough the mother could be deemed unfit & whether you ask for 50/50 or other, they may say full custody is the only option with likely criteria for access for BM.

Miss T's picture

OP, I think you need to give this a serious think before you agree to anything. For sure keep your money and assets out of the lawyers' hands. Trying to offer the kid stability and a semblance of reasonable home life is kind and nice and all kumbaya and whatnot, but you are talking about a seriously damaged kid and a father who's been iindifferent at best. Don't get into a p!ssing contest with BM. Don't listen to your DH's pleadings and promises, or to SD's attempts to charm (if she bothers).. You would be best served by just bowing out now and letting them figure things out without you.

LEAVE HIM. If he's really that great a partner, date him until the kid launches.

Good luck.