This is a question directed towards moms with full or primary/majority physical custody of stepkids... I am wondering what was the deciding factor when the court granted DH (& you) primary/full custody of the children over their BM. I've been a stepmother to DSD9 and DS6 for about a year and a half now. Because of some issues with their BM and the way she treats them, I think we may have grounds to seek full, or at least primary custody of the kids. My DH is reluctant though because he thinks that BM has to be a drug addict or severely abusive for the children's father to get primary custody, and because lawyers/court are expensive, and we're not rich, he thinks it would end up being a waste of money. So if you would share your experience with me, why did you & your DH get full/primary custody versus their BM?
Just some background info about our situation...after their separation & during divorce, when BM found out that child support in our state is based on how much time the children spend with their father, she moved 1 1/2 hours away to her mother's house with the children, which eliminated any school day visits. She used to pick fights with him and not let him see the kids whenever she felt like it, and then claim he was an "absentee father" until he got a court order stating he gets them every other weekend whether she likes it or not.
I do not believe the children are being blatantly abused, but I do believe they are being neglected. I've listed some of the reasons I feel this way below:
-BM has lived with DSD9 and DSS6 for two years in her mother's 2 bedroom house, and now BM's new boyfriend lives there as well. The children do not have a bedroom and they have been sleeping together on a twin mattress on the living room floor for two years. BM works part-time, her BF works full time, and my DH pays her $900 a month is child support (which is a lot in our rural area of Indiana), and she could easily find a rental property within her budget.
-The children only receive baths 2-3 times per week, and DSD9 is responsible for bathing DSS6. When my DH confronted BM about the issue, she states "they do not need a bath everyday", even though DSS6 still wets the bed every night. When he noticeably smelled like urine when DH picked him up for visits, he confronted BM about it, and now DSD9 has to give him a "quick bath" before she drops them off.
-DSS6 started in kindergarten this past year, and in December, my DH was informed by his teacher that he will have to repeat kindergarten next year because he is so far behind educationally. DSS6 cannot count to 10, cannot recite the alphabet, and cannot identify all the numbers 0-9. DH asked BM if he had been evaluated by the school for any developmental or intellectual deficiencies, and BM stated "he doesn't need that, that is why he's going to repeat kindergarten."
-Both children have displayed behavior indicated emotional problems and difficulty dealing with stress and normal adjustments, such as lying, tantrums, attention seeking, age-inappropriate behavior, etc. DH provides insurance for the children, and expressed these concerns to BM and requested she take them for counseling or a psychiatric evaluation. She stated the children's only problem is that they have an "absentee father", and that he doesn't spend enough time with them. Again, because of her move we can only see them every other weekend, so we cannot take them to a therapist during the week.
I apologize for the length of this post. If anyone could share their experience in gaining (or losing) custody over the birth mother, I would greatly appreciate it. I don't believe that DH's belief that a mom has to be on drugs or beat the kids to get custody is correct, but I don't really know anyone who has been through this before.