Edited by AtYourCervices - 7/17/11 at 6:45pm
"My husband is dragging his feet."
Your husband is dragging himself right into a divorce if he doesn't shape up.
If your ex parte at your current location is refused, why don't you fly back with your kids on Saturday, and stay with your folks while this is being investigated? You'll be able to get a local attorney, talk to the school, attend court, talk to the CPS worker in person, respond immediately if CPS takes any emergency action, etc. etc.
... and you'll also be letting your current husband know that where your kids are, so are you.
Are you serious?? YOU need to get the attorney's phone number, call them, set up an appointment, AND GO SEE THEM. Then, you need to WRITE THEM A CHECK for WHATEVER it will cost.
Children v. Husband NEVER ends well. At least not for Husband. Husband either supports you in making sure your children are in a healthy environment, or he needs to go out with the trash or something, but he should not be controlling whether you get this done or not. Seriously, the kids have been with you almost 2 weeks - they go back SATURDAY and you've waited until NOW to start this? You should have filed this the FIRST business day your children were there - attorney or not.
OP - you seem VERY VERY passive about this situation. Your kids are in danger. Why aren't you hopping mad and DOING everything in your power to fix it?
You seem to let XH and DH throw up barriers. You should be jumping over/under/through any hurdle in your way. Not waiting for others to give permission.
You leave a message and wait.
You should be ACTING. Not waiting for others to act. If one lawyer doesn't answer - call somebody else! Keep calling until you get this resolved!!
Are you just going to put those kids on the plane this weekend? Really? If so - I think there is some ambivalence on your part or something you aren't telling us.
These mamas here have given you very specific advice. If you need more help, please ask.
I agree. Park yourself in a waiting room until someone sees you. Calling isn't working.
Try to think about this for a minute... what kind of mental state would you be in if no lawyer was answering your calls, CPS is telling you to send the kids back so they can "investigate further", you know your kids are going to be homeless if you send them back, you know you're going to get arrested and risk losing your other 2 children if you don't send them back, meanwhile people are acting like you're either being unreasonably difficult or too passive, all while pointing out that your marriage sucks.
If it were me, and its not, I would be getting on that plane and leaving my other 2 children with their father who hopefully is more than capable of caring for them while I get emergency custody and permission to fly back home with the homeless 2.
The police WILL NOT get involved in a domestic matter, they will tell both parties to get into family court b/c they don't get involved with custody matters. I have NEVER heard of the police getting involved in a custody matter - people call, but nothing happens. Going to jail should be at the bottom of your worries.
I too would find a law firm in your area - any law firm - and just go to the office. Sit there until they talk to you. Cry to the receptionist. Do whatever you have to in order to see the lawyer. Go to a larger firm - sometimes in small firms the lawyers aren't around as much b/c they're in court. The larger firms have more lawyers, and are more likely to have someone in the office.
And, why would you lose your other 2 children (if you were arrested)? They wouldn't be taken away from your current DH also, or would he leave you? That also shouldn't be on your list of worries. Your ONLY WORRY needs to be the children you are sending back.
I agree with you though, you ARE being gaslighted. I think by both your ex and your current husband. Also, why didn't you walk the papers into court today? You may have gotten in front of a judge today, so maybe you should go down there and ask what to do next. They may allow you to see the intake judge to ask for emergency custody. Take all the kids, take some snacks, books, toys, and plan to be there most of the day. It's worth it.
Glad to hear it. Get to the court house EARLY (like, as soon as they open), to get a better shot at not being there ALL day. (the intake judge see's everyone who goes in that day - its alot of people - and you have to sit there all day until they call you, and its usually first come first served, so the earlier you're there, the better - I speak from experience! I got there as the doors were opening, and I was STILL there until noon before I got in front of the judge, and then it took until 3 before I got my orders.)
Mama, we are NOT trying to kick you when you are down. We are trying to light a fire under your butt to STOP taking no for an answer. Keep asking until you get a YES. Ask other people, and stop listening to either DH. Find a different lawyer, and stop waiting for return phone calls. Go to a lawyer's office like the pp said.
Your comment above is kind-of a good start. But you are still saying "try". You can do this. You are a grown up. You are obviously a strong woman to have gone through so much. So dig deep inside, take some practical advice here, and keep PUSHING until you get this taken care of.
Say this to yourself: "I AM going to talk to the judge today to get emergency custody. " Keep saying it! Do you see the passiveness in your version as compared to this one?
Let me give you an example. You say you can't fly home with the kids because you have two others. And then you give up. STOP letting these barriers impede your progress towards your goal! Take the youngest kids with you or leave them with your current DH. Figure out a way past this tiny obstacle!
I don't really trust that the law always agrees with what is right. It doesn't. So you have to work extra-hard to insist on what is right, not give in to fear and any impulse you may have, to withdraw in the face of fear. When my husband fought for custody of his son, it was practically a full-time job. He had an attorney, but even once you find one, you can't sit back and expect them to do all the work. You will need to educate yourself about the laws/guidelines/options/precedents that are relevant to your case; think long and hard about what you want to accomplish in court, so you can give clear direction to your lawyer; and prepare any evidence that supports your position. Your attorney will not spend his time (at $150/hr.) investigating things, like a TV attorney might. No one will ever be as motivated about your children's custody as you are. Your attorney will expect to get paid, whether you win or lose.
...From what I gather, since my ex husband is couch surfing, technically the children aren't considered in danger...Currently, I'm being threatened with the police if I don't send the kids on that plane on Saturday...
* I don't think they are "in danger". You believe your home is a significantly more appropriate environment for them, which is NOT the same as the kids being in danger, with their Dad.
* If you start your custody fight by defying your standing court orders, refusing to return the kids to their legal, custodial parent and justifying your actions by claiming it's "dangerous" for them to be with him, or calling him a "kidnapper", you risk looking unreasonable (exaggerating) and intent on keeping them away from their father (alienating). After all:
~~~ He has NOT kidnapped them; and
~~~ If you believe they're "in danger" with him - AND you're a person who defies court orders - can a judge trust you to comply with your ex's visitation rights, if you're given custody? Don't give your ex and his attorney the ammunition of that question! Since you don't have a temporary custody order, allowing the children to remain with you legally, I think you must, indeed, send them back.
But keep in mind: a permanent resolution to contested custody is necessarily a long - not an immediate - process. You have a battle ahead of you, even if you HAD been able to get a temporary order to keep the kids! Your ex is entitled to the time it will take to prepare his position, respond and be heard in court. And, considering everything, the court will almost surely want some type of custodial evaluation. Those take time, too. DURING that time, you want YOUR actions to show the Court that YOU comply with its orders. If your ex follows through on his threats and cuts off contact, or tries to interfere with your husband's employment or your relationship with your other children, or he dodges the CPS investigator, then HIS actions will make it all the easier for you to win.
Again, you can file some initial paperwork on your own, if necessary, then find an attorney to follow up on it. If you write up the petitions you want to file - and have them notarized - you can arrange to send them to a courier service, who can physically go down to the court and file them for you. The best thing would be for you to visit the city where your ex lives. You can look for an attorney in person. You can also tell your ex - as far in advance as possible - that you will be in town and want parenting time. If he refuses to give you any, that will be good ammunition for you, in court. Of course, if he DOES give you parenting time, you will get to see how your kids are doing and have less anxiety about your ex cutting you off from them!
I'm worried I won't be able to enroll the kids in school down here if I keep them. Well, you should NOT be allowed to. You're not the custodial parent and you don't have the custodial parent's permission to enroll them in school. There's a chance that you could slide by, because people often assume the mother has custody. But eventually your ex would get to tell a judge that you deceptively enrolled them in school, by fraudulently allowing the principal to think you had custody. Why give him that ammo?
If you had gotten a temporary ruling, allowing you to keep the kids until trial, great. But at this point, even if you managed to get some things filed in the proper court today, there wouldn't be a ruling before you have to send them back. So, stop panicking about how to accomplish what you want to happen TODAY and start looking at the bigger picture. If the kids are living with you by next school year, that will be a good, stable, long-term outcome, even if they do wind up finishing the last 6 weeks of THIS school year with their dad.
Another thought ... Based on your history I can see why you shy away from authority. But when somebody in authority gives you stupid advice, you have to keep asking other people.
So - the CPS person said to send the kids back so they could investigate your DH's care of the kids.
That is just counter-intuitive.
Ask to talk to the supervisor. Or call back and hope somebody else answers the phone. Explain that this doesn't seem like a very good plan.
Also - talk to the lawyer about this! Get the lawyer on your side so that you don't get screwed. The above poster makes some scary points, but don't let that make you shy away from ACTION!
We'll be thinking about you today. Hopefully you are already at the court house.
Sorry to be argumentative, but the CPS person's advice IS appropriate. The father has legal custody. The mother agreed to that arrangement. She has not yet even filed anything with the court, to change that arrangement. The CPS person has no legal justification for recommending that the mother keep the children - out of state, no less - when there is only an UNSUBSTANTIATED ALLEGATION that he's not caring for them properly. And the allegation is NOT that the children are at risk of being beaten, molested, starved or killed. The allegation is basically that he provides inadequate housing, has an inappropriate girlfriend and has threatened to thwart contact with the non-custodial parent...although he hasn't actually done that yet! The kids are currently WITH the NCP because he cooperated in putting them on a plane and sending them there, to visit her!
When your ex criticizes your new partner and threatens to seek custody and move the kids out of state, it makes you feel threatened. Wouldn't you feel threatened, if your ex did that to you? I would. It is not uncommon for a parent who feels threatened to say rash things. He has not actually done anything yet, aside from acquiring a girlfriend his ex hates, and CONTINUING to raise the kids in the SAME conditions that he's been doing for the last several years - with the mother's knowledge!
God forbid that CPS assumes a custodial parent is unfit and recommends taking their children away from them FIRST, until they PROVE they deserve to keep them!! If someone called CPS on YOU, how would you want the social worker to handle it? There CAN NOT be one set of rules for taking kids away from their mother and a different set, for taking them away from their father.
See a lawyer now. Find out what the best options are given your history and your ex's and the state laws where you reside. Do it before the children come, that way when they arrive you have some idea what you are up against and what your plan of action is. Sounds like they are going through a lot and will need you to be there for them and to listen to their struggles. IMHO, it's not the time to be distracted with the legal matters you will be pursuing. Forget trying to reason with your ex, he is not in a rational frame of mind. Go through the courts and find out if CPS can offer any help.