I got pregnant at 16 and married the father of child and had the baby at 17. AFTER the child's birth, the father started abusing me. I left with the child when he was 9 months old, got an EPO and it turned into a DVO for 2 years. The judge at the time said that custody would be determined by CPS. CPS determined the father was ok to have joint custody. I had a lawyer, as did he. 50/50 and from May 2007 (child had just turned 1 year) until November 2009 the arrangement the court gave us was 2 days with dad, 2 days with me, 5 days with dad, 5 days with me. We were allowed to change it if we mutually agreed. I begged his dad for 2+ years to change it because there was too much moving around for a toddler. In 2009, we changed it to one week on and one week off. This lasted until August 2012. In 2012, I was blindsided and dad took me to court for sole custody. He claimed 1) I had no residence 2) I was addicted to drugs 3) I had no income. He said a lot of other things also, but those were his top 3. I proved 1) I had my own apartment 2) I passed a drug test 3) I had income, just not a 9-5 job like he did, I am self-employed. The judge awarded temporary custody to dad until a custodial evaluation could be completed. I now have 3 hour visitation on Tuesday and Friday-Sunday one week, Thursday through Saturday the next.
Other relevant points:
1) My child has severe mental health issues. I have always taken the initiative to get him services, dad doesn't believe the problem exists, despite therapists telling him so. His father pulled him out a week before our court date. At court, he was court-ordered to IMMEDIATELY resume counseling which he has not done (and it has been 3 months). I tried to put him back in counseling and they said since I was not the NCP I could not do it. I have asked his dad to resume services and was told it would be February before he did so.
2) My son's preschool and Kindergarten years in school, he might have had one or two minor behavioral issues in school a month. We had joint custody at the time and he was in counseling majority of the time. Now in first grade, I have him 51 hours a week and he is not in counseling, and he is having a minor behavioral issue almost daily, and numerous major behavioral issues (threw something at a child, not doing schoolwork, cursing, urinating on another child)
3) Dad has called CPS on me 5 times in the course of 6 years, for things ranging from child having a diaper rash to having a dog in my home (which he also has). EVERYTIME CPS has dismissed it and said he was "fishing". I called 1 time because my son said he was being hit, and CPS dismissed it as well, NOT because it didn't happen, but because my son refused to talk, at all.
4) My son cries every single time he has to go back to his father, he originally thought this was a choice I had made, and the most I could tell him without violating the court order is that it is a choice that the judge made, and I have to follow it and that I wish he could stay with me as often as he wishes. He states things like "well, I might as well go to my dad's and get it over with. When do I come back?"
There are many other things, I am just trying to hit on the important ones.
I do not have a lawyer this time through, I cannot afford one (especially after paying hundreds for GAL and thousands for evaluator)
Anyway, I have spoken to the custodial evaluator and scheduled my appointment, he still hasn't. I am researching the process and I know that they will interview collateral contacts. A question I have is this: I have a daughter with my husband, there are numerous people who know my daughter well, but not my son, and have observed my parenting skills with her that are willing to testify. (Her head-start teacher and home visitor, her former childcare provider, etc). Can these people be used as proof of my parenting strengths since they have no relationship with my son?
Also, if anyone has any general advice, I'd appreciate. I am pouring over child custody links right now, trying to build the best case I can, pro se.