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post #1 of 83
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Edited by AtYourCervices - 7/17/11 at 7:12pm
post #2 of 83
You don't say how old the kids are but that situation sounds intolerable. I would call CPS in the state where the kids live and hope for a sympathetic ear. Maybe you could get custody of them. You weren't really an unfit parent before.. just ill.
post #3 of 83

If you live in a 4 bedroom house and are prepared to take the children right away, I would launch a CPS investigation. Don't YOU be the one to call, though.

 

Ask your friends and family members to call, anonymously.

 

Call your children's schools, ask them if they were aware of the situation and whether they are working with the father at all. Play innocent and I guarantee you will hit on at least one teacher who will be frustrated enough to spill many details of  the children's transient living and bad situation.
 

At that point you can ask them to call CPS as well.

 

Based on my own experiences ith CPS, if there is an allegation of either drugs or abuse, the accused person (in this case the girlfriend) has to move out during hte investigation or else the dad and kids would have to move out. If they find that the case is founded (and you say it is) the kids won't be allowed back there. If he has no permanent address and is homeless then they will start looking for another stable environment which would logically be you.

 

Or you could take the whole thing back to court, which would take longer. But in my experience the courts do CRAZY things regarding custody.

post #4 of 83
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Edited by AtYourCervices - 7/17/11 at 7:11pm
post #5 of 83
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Edited by AtYourCervices - 7/17/11 at 7:10pm
post #6 of 83

Calling CPS is a good idea, but can you go through the courts to get custody changed?

post #7 of 83

It is possible that CPS will not consider homelessness a reason to take custody away from a parent. Because of my job, I work fairly closely with our state's version of CPS, and have heard specifically that they don't consider homelessness (on its own) a reason to remove children from parents' custody. They may not, in fact, consider alleged (or even proven) drug use by a household member to be reason to remove children. I know it seems crazy, but it could be the case where you are that they don't consider either (or even both in combination) to constitute abuse, neglect, or substantial risk of harm. I'm NOT saying this is my personal opinion, I'm saying it might not be enough cause for CPS to get a judge to remove children from dad's custody. 

 

That said... in your situation, I would consider filing an emergency order asking for temporary custody, as well as a petition for a permanent change in custody. It probably has to be done in the state where your case currently resides, and you would be wise to talk to a lawyer from that state (especially from the city/county where you will need to file) who will be well-versed in the laws in that state. You could wait until the children are with you, or you could do it now. A lawyer in the area should be able to advise you and can probably handle the temporary/emergency request without you physically there (it might require some overnighting of signature pages, which is what we did), but I imagine you would have to go back if there is a hearing for an actual change in custody later.    

post #8 of 83
Quote:
Originally Posted by aricha View Post

It is possible that CPS will not consider homelessness a reason to take custody away from a parent. Because of my job, I work fairly closely with our state's version of CPS, and have heard specifically that they don't consider homelessness (on its own) a reason to remove children from parents' custody. They may not, in fact, consider alleged (or even proven) drug use by a household member to be reason to remove children. I know it seems crazy, but it could be the case where you are that they don't consider either (or even both in combination) to constitute abuse, neglect, or substantial risk of harm. I'm NOT saying this is my personal opinion, I'm saying it might not be enough cause for CPS to get a judge to remove children from dad's custody. 

 

 


Maybe not homelessness in and of itself, but a proven inability to maintain a home, right? The fact that he is chronically homeless.

 

I have been homeless with my children before, but it was temporary and I was working, providing food and clothing, etc. I would hope in that situation CPS would work with the parent to find a stable residence. BUT if the parent has been sitting on his or her butt for several years (and there is documentation to prove this) then wouldn't that point to an unfit parent? Like a cumulative effect of all aspects of this situation, with the current homelessness just bringing things to a head.....

post #9 of 83
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Edited by AtYourCervices - 7/17/11 at 7:10pm
post #10 of 83

1- If he has legal custody, most likely you would not be able to accomplish keeping them with you longer than spring break.  Something as serious as a change in custody takes more than a week for the courts to decide, as well it should, especially when changing custody involves the children moving 800 miles away from the parent who has raised them, their schools, friends and community.  And until custody is changed, their default home is with their current custodial parent, your ex.

 

2- Since filing something during spring break will not prevent you having to send the kids back, take a more measured approach.  If you try to file things, or request emergency placement, while they're with you for spring break, your ex will feel ambushed and hostile about you wanting custody and your kids might feel the same way.  It's a big change for them, too.  It's best if you present it to everyone as a calm, rational, well-considered decision that you're pursuing for the best interest of the kids - and that you're willing to discuss with your ex, a judge, and probably a custodial evaluator - rather than something you're trying to pull over on your ex, after he cooperated in sending the kids to visit you.

 

3- It sounds like you have some solid reasons for arguing that your home is better for them.  But your ex - as well as a judge - are going to point out that, for many years, you've appeared content to live far away from the kids and make a new family.  Even after your recovery, either you remained where you were, 800 miles away; or you moved that far away; or you let your ex take the kids that far away and didn't choose to follow them.  By your own account, your ex's couch-surfing, girlfriend-mooching lifestyle is nothing new.  But up until now, you neither felt compelled to move closer to your kids and be more involved in their day-to-day lives, providing stability and protection; nor have you taken any concrete steps to get custody.  You're only taking arms against his lifestyle after he has moved in with someone you hate.  Don't get me wrong, it sounds like you have good reason not to want her involved in raising your kids.  But your ex is going to claim your only real problem is jealousy:  that she tried to break you guys up, when you were together.  So, you need to take the time to prepare your argument.  Be ready to answer why you didn't take any drastic measures to get the kids back before, but you are now?  Does the new girlfriend have a criminal record?  Has she ever been ordered to rehab?  How might you prove her home is a worse environment than that of the last girlfriend, who was good with the kids, but lived in a bad neighborhood?  If the kids have been dealing with this lifestyle for years, another several months of it is not going to make or break their futures.  Focus on crafting a case that makes you look rational (and even sympathetic to how hard it will be for your ex and your kids to separate), NOT making yourself look vindictive and cruelly inconsiderate.  After all, regardless what a jerk your ex might be, he and the kids are accustomed to living together.  Imagine how you would feel if you sent your youngest (who lives with you) to visit Grandma overnight, then Grandma notified you she had filed paperwork and did not intend to send your baby home.  Don't be that person, unless you're certain one of your kids has been abused.

 

4- Yes, whatever legal steps you take will most likely have to be in the jurisdiction where the children live.  The Uniform Child Custody Act prevents courts - or law enforcement - in other states from intervening in child custody, in ways that violate a standing order in another state.

 

5- I agree that one can't always go with what the children say they want.  If they were as capable of making good decisions as adults, they'd be out supporting themselves.  But if, after living so far away from them the last many years, and then taking them away from their current lives, you hope to have a good relationship with them - especially the 12-year-old girl! - then it's very important how you approach the custody battle.  It should not seem to anyone like a sneak-attack.   

 


Edited by VocalMinority - 3/28/11 at 4:17pm
post #11 of 83
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Edited by AtYourCervices - 7/17/11 at 7:10pm
post #12 of 83


I didn't mean to come across as though *I* question your motives.  I don't.  I'm simply explaining what you're going to be up against, if you approach seeking custody as a sneak-attack.

 

While your feelings (hating the thought of them going back) are perfectly understandable, I think that in the court's eyes, the kids' current situation is not substantially different from the situation that you have tolerated, for years.  I realize you have negotiated for custody with your ex, before this.  But you haven't done anything through the courts, until now.  Your ex is such a poor decision-maker that you think he should lose custody, but until now you haven't gone above his head.  That will communicate to 3rd parties that, until now, you did not consider the couch-surfing and chronic unemployment an emergency.  In fact, you were comfortable enough with it to move 800 miles away from the kids, leaving them in his care, as long as they were with a girlfriend you liked, and not this current one.  I'm not telling you *my own* position (personally, I think you should pursue custody).  I'm just telling you the arguments that will be made against you.  You need to be ready for them.  

 

Also, if it comes out in court that you moved 800 miles away from your kids, hoping to take custody of them this summer, even though your ex clearly does not want to give them up, you might wind up looking pretty unconcerned about their relationship with their dad.  If, in addition, you pursue custody by calling CPS on him and trying to get an emergency order to keep them from going back to school after spring break, you might wind up looking really hostile toward him. 

 

I'm not saying what you want is wrong, or that what you've done is wrong!  I'm saying I think your case would be stronger if you petitioned for custody and petitioned for a custodial evaluation and waited while the process takes place.  I can't imagine a custodial evaluator reporting that a prostitute's sofa is a better home for a 12-year-old girl than what you can provide.  The only thing that would weigh against you is if you make yourself look like you've plotted to tear your kids away from your ex - FAR away from him - because you're angry.  Don't act rashly.

Quote:
Originally Posted by AtYourCervices View Post





 I'm concerned about sending the kids home after spring break when they actually have no "home" to go to.

 

 I HAVE talked to my ex husband about having the kids live with me. He keeps changing the subject or giving an excuse as to why it's not the right time. Ultimately, his real reasoning is he wants to use the kids for hand outs. Last time he and I made a plan (verbal agreement) to move the kids in with me he went behind my back and had his girlfriend claim the kids on her taxes, getting several thousand dollars in taxes that was supposed to go towards a down payment on a larger home for the kids to move back in with me. Even though my ex husband and I had agreed that I was to claim the kids on taxes that year (because I did have quite a lot of visitation at that time and he wasn't working, and our verbal agreement was switch claiming the kids on taxes each year), he went behind my back and had his (now ex) girlfriend claim them so she could buy a big screen TV. Seriously. I considered turning them in, but I decided to avoid drama. I've been biding my time, got a bigger home, and have wanted to do everything the legal, right way.

 

Until this went down my husband and I were planning on having the kids move in with us this summer (after the school year was up). We just moved 800 miles away from the kids in October. I didn't make a stink before because my ex husband's now ex wasn't horrible. I could take my time, wait until the school year was up, wait until my daughter and her boyfriend broke up, etc. Now I just can't bare another month with them in that environment, with an ex prostitute drug addict as their female role model. Yes, I have personal issues with her, but really who wouldn't have a problem with that kind of person being their kids' potential future step mom?! In addition to all of this, my ex husband hasn't allowed me to talk to the kids in some time. Meanwhile, I have let him talk to our 10 y/o daughter several times a week, whenever he wants, and I have a webcam so he can "see" her. 


 

 

post #13 of 83

Jeanine had a few good points - but that doesn't mean all is lost.  If I were you I would get out the phone book, get on google, and spend some serious time in the next 24hours to call every lawyer you can find that does inter-state custody battles in your town (meaning, custody across state lines).

 

There ARE certain situations in which you can get emergency custody orders from a state that the children don't live in - but I have NO IDEA if yours is one of them. You need a lawyer, and a GOOD one who is VERY experienced in inter-state custody battles.  You need to start making phone calls, asking for recommendations (lawyers know other lawyers, and most are pretty willing to turn you over to someone else if they aren't familiar with the type of expertise you are looking for).

 

As for what Jeannine said about not fighting for custody sooner - its not meant to upset you, rather its something that you need to think long and hard about how you'll explain the situation to a judge.

 

Good luck!!

post #14 of 83
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Edited by AtYourCervices - 7/17/11 at 7:10pm
post #15 of 83
You could also check this page from the State Bar of Georgia, which provides links to local bar associations.

"The State Bar of Georgia does not refer individual lawyers but some local bars do offer a referral service."

"Although the State Bar of Georgia is not authorized to refer clients to lawyers, the Bar is permitted to refer clients to lawyer referral services that can help clients find lawyers. To obtain the telephone number for a referral service in your area, please call 404-527-8700."

Here is the State Bar's page on "How to choose a lawyer."

(I'm basing this information on your profile, which states that you're in Georgia. If you're in a different state, search for "[state name] bar association" and look for similar information.)
post #16 of 83

Jeannine is doing a great job playing the devil's advocate.  What she is saying might sting, but it's better to have her (i.e. someone on your side) grill you so you can think about and prepare your answers instead of being grilled by your ex's lawyer.

FC

post #17 of 83
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Edited by AtYourCervices - 7/17/11 at 7:09pm
post #18 of 83
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Edited by AtYourCervices - 7/17/11 at 7:09pm
post #19 of 83
Quote:
Originally Posted by AtYourCervices View Post
 He hasn't let me speak with the kids in awhile, and I'm really concerned. I think he's not letting the kids speak with me because he's afraid of what the kids will tell me about their living situation. :( 


Isn't this illegal? I don't know; I was under the impression that this would be considered being in contempt of custody orders--I'm assuming that you have the legal right to talk to your kids via your custody orders and him withholding contact is illegal. Document every single time he avoids your contact or won't let you talk to the kids.

 

Personally, I would get all my legal paperwork ducks in a row and file everything the day that your dad picks them up--I don't think he will get wind of the orders until the following business day, and by then, won't the kids be with you? I'm thinking that grandpa picks them up on a Friday, you file that Friday which gets that date reg'd w/ the court, but ex doesn't get wind of it til Monday or even later. Then I would probably let his contacts go to voicemail before carefully responding hours later and stay in close contact with a good lawyer. Do you have it on record from the school that they see you as better placement? Get even an audio recording or emails from the teachers and why they feel that way. I would file for temporary emergency placement right away--I think you are totally right that your kids are really in imminent danger and that you gotta get them out, stat! Also, that same Friday, I would call cps and ask them for a drop-in visit to the place they have been staying. If you can get legal background on the gf, then that would be good, too. So that's just me, but I tend to rush in and move from my emotions. You are right--how can you send them "home" after spring break when there is no "home"? I would tell the courts that at the temporary placement hearing, too. 

 

And maybe this is messed up, but I wouldn't tell the kids everything. I would audio record your conversations with them once they get to your place and casually talk about the living conditions, even kind of joke about it with them. I would get their words on tape before telling them that the jig is up, and then I would downplay it saying how, oh since you guys were going to be moving in this summer, dh and I just couldn't wait--we love you so much and want you to stay with us starting even sooner than that. Try not to discuss the legal stuff in front of them and just keep a really calm environment.

 

I understand not wanting to look like this is a sneak attack, but the fact that he is withholding them from you makes me think that if you talk it out ahead of time, he will pull back even further and take your Spring Break visitation (which is illegal, too, right? he can't withhold visitation!) and then try to establish a mock home environment.

 

Gosh, this situation sucks so much! hug2.gif I hope that it works out short and sweet and that you are able to get temporary orders over break followed by permanent orders!

post #20 of 83
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Edited by AtYourCervices - 7/17/11 at 7:07pm
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