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Divorced father (33) wants custody, has live-in girlfriend.


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I was married and lived with my ex-wife for 9 years until we separated. I've have not lived with my ex-wife for over 2 1/2 years. We got divorced in June of 2002. So I've been divorced for over a year and a half now. I agreed to allowing my 2 sons to stay with her and I would pay child support. I have been paying her child support since we separated. I see my sons every 1st, 3rd and 5th weekends plus Wednesday evenings and any other day my ex-wife will allow me to have. She works at night frequently and doesn't spend much time with them (ages 11 and 6) because of that. Her sister takes care of them. My ex (age 34) lives with her mom (age 6 and her sister and her sister's husband (ages 44 and 5. Also living in the house is her niece and her niece's fiance (ages 19 and ?). The house is a small 3 bedroom house. My sons share their room with their mother and grandmother. All 4 in the same bed. My ex's mom, sister, brother in law and niece's fiance are all smokers. My sons' clothes always smell like smoke. My younger son has an asthma related condition that requires the use of an inhalor several times a day. I fear that his condition will worsen if he stays in the house with 4 smokers. My older son has been diagnosed with ADHD and is on medication. I can only say that I think putting any child on medication is a crock of @#$%$. When I pick him up on Wednesdays he often seems withdrawn and depressed. I love my sons very much and I am very concerned with their well being. I do not want to put my oldest son in a situation where he has to make a decision between his mother and me. On the other hand, I think the end justifies the means. I sincerely believe that I can provide a much more stable environment for my sons to grow up in. Here's the catch: My girlfriend lives with me. She is the nicest person I have ever known. She was my highschool sweetheart. We were only 16 and 17 at that time. Now we've been reunited through fate. We love each other very much. She is great with the kids and most important, the kids like her. We are both employed with regular 9 to 5 jobs and would be able to support my sons if we had custody of them. I do plan on getting married but I want to try to spend my time and money , if necessary, to get custody of my sons. I have very little money saved up and will use every penny to get my sons back if need be. The only obstacle is my ex-wife who is extremely bitter. I can't even talk to her about our sons. She gets angry and hangs up on me if I even begin to talk to her about them. She is so mad that she seems to make decisions with ill intentions toward me. Instead of deciding what is best for our sons, she seems to choose the solution that will most hurt or anger me. Please advice me on what to do. I just want what is best for my sons.


Thank you.

Sad Dad

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It looks like your going to have to fight for them. And if I was you I would it sounds like they are not in a good household. I wish you the best of luck on getting them. You will be in my prayers. Good Luck.


P.S. Welcome to enotalone from everyone.

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First step I'd say would be to talk to a legal aid office and get references to a good family lawyer, find out just where you stand as far as your living situation as opposed to your wife's in his or her opinion. The lawyer should also be able to give you a good idea of what lies ahead, and of the do's and don'ts to avoid it becoming more tangled and messier than necessary.


One cautionary note: Before judging whether or not your child should be on any medication - get copies of his school records and talk to the psychiatrist who prescribed the medication. If the reasoning seems scanty, or seems to have been a hastily made and not necessarily justifed decision, find a child psych and get a second opinion/evaluation. A court or judge isn't going to want to hear your passionate opinion, they're going to want sound medical reasoning and a professional evaluation to back up your feelings. Better yet, if you're trying to make a change - have TWO that oppose his current psych's diagnosis - preferably ones that are recommended by a child services organization. If they feel the diagnosis is justifed - you're going to have to come to terms with it, or lose your chance at getting custody of your sons. If they think the judgement was made too quickly or there's not enough information - arrange for testing. The tests aren't traumatic or personal, more like games that they'll observe HOW he works through questions. (Sorry if you already know all this, but there's a lot of misinformation that floats around!) Then you'll really know where you stand and have solid evidence to support your feelings, or at the least, you'll have gone through the steps necessary to show you cared enough to ensure he was being treated properly, and not just based on a snap judgement.


I'd do the same with your child who is on the inhaler - get a solid medical opinion on what the smoke exposure may be doing to make his condition worse, and also get a list of things (like special air filters for heat ducts) than can improve his condition; show you're actively going to try to take steps to avoid exposing him to things that can aggravate his condition.


It's always better to have done too much homework than not enough - make sure you know the schools they'd be attending, have a list of places you've looked into that seem reasonable for after-school care. You can't have too much information in case questions arise about how closely you've looked into everything.

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The Morrigan has some excellent points.


You should know that a bitter custody battle is an extraordinarily expensive proposition. You may spend 10, 20, or even 50 thousand dollars on legal fees, custody evaluations, psychologists, etc and that is not going to guarantee custody. Perhaps your ex would agree to mediation to try and work out a different custody or living arrangement. If joint custody is an option in your location that may be a reasonable compromise.


Please do contact a lawyer and get some sound advice. It sounds like you have some reasonable concerns about the well being of your children but be very careful about jumping to conclusions. This can play out lots of different ways. Good luck to you!

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A lot of what is said above may be good advice. But, if you intend to try to get custody, you need to learn how to win a custody battle. Do some research on that and then talk to a lawyer who does this kind of work, family law in general and custody battles in particular. A commercial, real estate or some other lawyer is not the person to see for help. To prep for this, you need to document as much as you can. Document the smoking of your ex's family and your sons asthma, that your sons sleep in the same bed as their grandmother and mother, etc., anything you can think of. Ask the lawyer about your situation and whether you should be married, etc. The Court may like it better if you were, but not like it if the marriage seems rushed. You may nto want to make a move immediately, because once you do it will be a fight. Maybe before the fight starts you can get the ammunition you need to win the fight. Proceed with much caution. Good luck.

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It depends on their age. If they are quite young, then the answer is no - the court does not care what they say they want. The reasoning being that they can be easily manipulated by one parent so their view is not considered.


Unfortunately this is one time I agree with the court system. Imagine a parent telling a young child "If you tell that court person you want to live with daddy then you can never see mommy again". What do you think the child would say under that kind of pressure?

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