advice on custody/visitation

Jill - posted on 08/04/2009 ( 35 moms have responded )

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So, we are going to court on August 14th for custody and visitation of my youngest two step-sons (they will be 3 and 2 this November). So, my fiance did not see the baby for the first year and a week of his life, and the same about of time for the 2 year old. She blames him for not being around, but she was in texas for about 4-6 months of that time. She showed up to his parents house with the kids dirty (I know its halloween, but if they havent seen Dad in over a year she should have made sure they were clean, I know I would). So he saw them for two months, filed for visitation, she left for TX in January. Said "too bad aboput seeing you kids" I found out from a few lawyers she cannot leave state w/o a ligitimate reason or having Dad's permission, which she had neither. In April she started working and told the court in May she was not. Then last month she asked him to give up his parental rights because she "cant be away from them for a week, never mind a summer." We are going to ask the judge for full custody, figuring we'll get at least joint if we dont get full. I'm looking to see what others opinions are, he hasnt seen much of the kids in 2 years and only saw his youngest son for 2 months. The two year old calls him Daddy on the phone, but she says he calls everyone that. She also stated that the boys "dont know or like" him. Please someone give me some hope that this is not a lost cause. We live in FL btw,a nd she moved to TX to be with her "lover" (shes a lesbian).

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H.J - posted on 08/15/2009

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Get the DCF findings from when she had them called on her here that would be great for your court case as it goes to show that there has been a history of neglect or abuse reported! The judge should have ruled 50/50 payments for her sending the children too and from her place or at least her paying seens as she removed them from the state with out consulting your fiance. You need a great lawyer who will look at all of the facts. Think of things you want your lawyer to subpoena too so that you can be right on the ball from day one. Be careful with your subpoena's because you only have a limited amount of them.

Jill - posted on 08/15/2009

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oh, yes, i am going lawyer hunting the beginning of next month as soon as things settle down and rent is paid. Thanks for the idea! She had DCF called on her here, and claims she doesnt have the internet but did check her myspace tuesday. Go figure.

Cleona - posted on 08/15/2009

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call childrens services in TX where she lives, tell them you are concerned, and ask them to do a welfare check and reply their findings back to you (actually your husband because they are his kids) and get a goooood lawyer

Jill - posted on 08/15/2009

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i just.....she dsoesnt realize shes hurting her sons too! they see him in Nov for 4 days then dont see him again until July? Thats going to be hard even with weekly phone calls! Cause there is no physical contact! I would rather one week everyother month, ya it would be a lot in plane tickets, but better for the kids WE have to pay for HIM to fly to ge them and fly back, BOTH WAYS!!! AND SHE MAKES MORE THAN TWICE WHAT HE MAKES!!! HIS MONTHLY CHILD SUPPORT IS LESS THAN HER WEEK:LY CHECK!!! Its rediculous.

H.J - posted on 08/15/2009

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My fiance's mum went into bankruptcy helping us fund the court case we had (she had other debts too) it is worth every cent to see how much the children benefit from a loving father in their lives. Don't give up!

Jill - posted on 08/15/2009

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oh trust me, we are both going to go get second jobs just to afford a lawyer to be able to take EVERYTHING to court, this was just visitation which means we still have to go back for the child support that she lied about in court (due to they still had her address as FL as of June when we went and changed it cause of a card she sent him from TX), and for custody. And you best believe if we have to spend $50000 to get full custody with her having visitation we will do it. Thanks for the support, Hayley!

H.J - posted on 08/15/2009

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I'm really sorry to hear that Jill. Keep fighting it is worth it in the end, my advice is to never give up. 12 days a year is crap! Fight for shared parental responsibility as this is not fostering the relationship with the children. Take it back to court. Good luck

Jill - posted on 08/14/2009

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Just to let everyone know, they cared NOTHNG about everything he had against her. They let her stay in TX, and he has 12 DAYS a year to see the kids. He was int he court room 15 minutes. She called and asked if she could call in, he told her no and they let her anyway! Looks like its time to save for a lawyer.... Thanks for all the advice, sorry one of it helped.

H.J - posted on 08/10/2009

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Good luck with it all. It sounds very complex. We had photographic evidence of the worst nappy rash I had seen in 10years working in Long Day Care which was admissible into evidence. Keep collecting evidence. Try not to converse with her over the phone because phone conversations are hear say. Use post or email, and to a lesser extent sms as then you have a record. Our email records were admissible as evidence but I'm in Australia and the evidence laws could be much different. Keep receipts for everything for the boys. If you pay child support make sure you do it through a formal agency not a verbal agreement, or wire transfers so that you have receipts of payment. Sounds like you have everything under control all you can do now is wait for the court process to go through. Put through an urgent application because she has removed the children from the state too. We had it ordered in interim orders that she couldn't move houses with out prior consent and that she could not take the child out of the state with out 28days notice. This should stuff up any plans to take the children out of the state or country. This should speed things up and put on there that she could go missing again. Also get your partner to get the kids a passport. This makes it much harder for her to take the kids out of the country with out red flags going up!

Jill - posted on 08/10/2009

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thank you, Hayley. I just wanted to let you know that he was technically living with his parents until July 20th when we moved into a 3 bedroom apartment. We are waiting for my friends children who are the same ages as well as a 4 year old so in the [process we've gotten EVERYTHING including clothes and diapers for the boys. Also, she has two addresses with the court and neither are in the state of TX. We also are bringing with us the pictures of them on halloween which shows their faces filthy. I also remembered last night that we hvae short videos of Bobby with they boys, one of which Blayk says "I love you, Daddy".



Lona, she will not let him see the kids at all. She said she'd let him have them for the summer, well they are still in TX and school starts today.



Thanks for all the coments!

Kelly - posted on 08/10/2009

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Her telling him that the oldest calls everyone daddy, along w/ the other things she is saying could just be her way to 1. justifying to herself for taking them away, 2. a way to plant seeds of doubt in your fiance's mind (which only he can water), 3. she is a control freak and believes if she kicks and screams loud enough she will get her way while he gives up.

You two need to create a stable environment for the child. It will be difficult, but father's can get custody of the children. Find a "father's attorney"; these are attorneys that are looking to fight for good dads that are getting the wrong end of the deal.

You are doing all the right things, going through the court, seeking the advise of the attorneys, him calling and keeping in touch w/ the boys. Keep it up. It sucks that you are having to go through these silly/childish games. Good luck!

Lona - posted on 08/10/2009

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If she left the state and he did not agree, she should half to pay for the kids to come and visit him for every other weekend, and during the holiday and summer vacation, He will need to go to court to enfource that however. PLEASE tell him to keep a daily journal, to record every thing that he does day to day and in that day to day stuff write about the times that he talks to his kids ect... also keep track of any payments made to her ect...This is the only way that a judge will allow this type of info, is if it is a day to day thing. My brother is going through a similar situation. It will be a while, but if he is keeping in contact and even if he agreed to some type of the kids come once every 3 months or something, to where it shows he is trying it will look better in the end

H.J - posted on 08/10/2009

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Hi Jill, It is not hopeless! My partner didn't know where his son was either, long story short we have his son full time. Document everything, correspond via e-mail or post and make sure there is a witness with you when she does do visitation to ensure that you have a witness even if you just have a friend there when she drops the kids off. Make sure the friend doesn't say a word to her so they are not accused of being abusive. She can't ask him to give up his rights and you have that to hold against her. She is also a flight risk so you have that on your side You will get a minimum of 50/50 care because that is what the courts now do as parents have equal right to raise their child. Take photo's of everything e.g. the state the children arrive in if they are filthy etc. Keep sms's to show to your lawyer so that they can witness them. Keep your chin up because you will both be in for a hell of a fight! The ends will justify the means. There is hope, she may have status quo on her side but she didn't give your fiance a choice. Just ensure that everything is stable and you have a plan for schooling. Even though you are not married you are living in a defacto relationship and if you have been together for a long time it shows stability. If she keeps moving from place to place it shows she is unstable. Don't move what ever you do. Show that you are able to provide a more stable environment for the kids. Good luck!

Jill - posted on 08/09/2009

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oh, please, let me correct you on something, he wanted everythin to do with his sons it was that she gacve him no contact information. They were together on and off after blayk was born but before Treyce, after treyce was born he got a phone call saying so, and on november 15th he found out Treyce had been in the hospital 5 days after because he couldnt breath right. He didnt even know his name until he got the papers for the child support about 7 months after treyce was born so after he got the call and called the hospital bm had been discharged. In april of 2008 she took off to tx, he had been on bedrest since the december before for tearing his phsyatic (not sure the spelling) nerve in his lower back. And she never called him to tell him she was back. So please believe when I say he wanted stuff to do with them but did not know how to go about it.Oh no, he was living there she NEVER WORKED UNTIL APRIL 2, THIS YEAR!! So please believe when I say he lived with her and all he did was work 80 hour weeks doing construction....ya she was loving that money. She blames him for her becoming a lesbian....she was always checking me out from what the fam said....thats where we all get that she still wants him. Please belive that he is NOT the bad guy, but a young person who knew nothing of the way to go in order to have court appointed visits plus when you work 9-5 outside in a party rental place it does not leave much room to be able to go to the court house. He has no license and no car due to his medical condition and cannot get one for two years (w/o seizures) so everytime she stresses him out with these kids and he has a seizure (which he hasnt since he has seen the pics of halloween and nov 1 when his kids were both filthy and treyce had like hives on him for which the department of children and familys was called on the bm, but she says its none of his buisiness, its also none of his buisiness that she does not clean up after the family dog when it shits everywhere, but its ok for them to live there.....

Mel - posted on 08/08/2009

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I can kinda see why the bm is angry. Speaking from experience, it is very hard for someone not to be involved in your child's life for an extended period of time, then all of a sudden want to be a father and bam they are demanding rights. When it has been the bm taking care of the child on their own. It will probably be an adjustment phase for the bm. Letting go of the person that means most to you in your life to someone who wanted nothing to do with them is very hard. I think going to court is great but try to see where the bm is coming from. It is that she is going to have to learn to share. And that is very hard to do once you are use to doing it alone. (And just because you live with a parent doesn't mean they help.) She was probably doing it on her own. It is not easy, even when you do want them to have their father in their life no matter what, letting someone you don't fully trust because they denied the loves of your life, back in. Once she learns to trust him, it will probably be easier. I doubt she is still in love with him though.

Jill - posted on 08/08/2009

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Oh, I have already told him, she will flip out and he needs to hold his tongue and allow her to yell if need be because it will look better on him. Also, someone mentioned that since we are not yet married he needs to be able to show the court he is able to taek care of the kids on his own, thank you for that, that is one thing I hadnt thought about. Someone said something about notifying the court after she left state, we filed this motion BEFORE she left state, almost a month before, and she never changed her address with the court, her mom was getting food stamps for her and the two boys 6 months after she left...there was no persecussion for this, also, the court already has two addresses for her, both int he same town and none for out of state. So when we moved into our 3 bedroom apartment I made sure we got the address changed with child support (which she did not do either) and with the court. Also, we have doccumented EVERYTHING since he first started seeing the children on November 15th of last year. Every phone call, visit or no visit, letter, significant e-mails (which are printed and have her name on them and picture). Not that emails can be used in court but we figured it cant hurt us any. Thats why he is always careful what he writes to her as well as says so that nothing can be used against him, and the two things she tried to use are disproven (his epilepsy by his doctor giving him permission to gdo foster care, and the "anger management" which is a class through our church and is a "Godly way to control your emotions so it does not lead to anger). As of yet we have not received anything from her that she is bringing any witnesses or documents to court.They had to be to the court on Friday (yesterday). We'll see, please keep the comments coming they are helping a lot. And I am in no way trying to batter the mother but when someone keeps a good persons kids from them for selfish reasons, is why I dislike her. (Plus, we all think shes in love with him and he wants nothing to do with her, just his kids...so that might be one reason plus the control.) Thanks again!

Mindi - posted on 08/08/2009

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Hello Jill! Custody battles are tough! You want to always do what's in the best interest of the child. It's tricky because you live in two different states. I would ask for alotted times for phone calls and I would ask that it's required for her to have a web cam so you can have weekly visits. I would request half of all school vacations and for at least half of the summer. Never bad mouth the other parent in front of the mediator as this will be a strike against you. Good Luck!

Mel - posted on 08/07/2009

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he will most likely get 50/50 custody if he files in Florida and they were born in florida. because Florida is a 50/50 no fault state now. It sucks (speaking from my own experience I am going through right now) But I think your plan will work.

Jill - posted on 08/07/2009

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I have pictures of the first night she brought them over, and granted it was halloween, but I know if my childrens father had not seen them in over a year, I would want them the cleanest I could AND the best dressed, even if halloween costumes. The one year old, no teeth mind you, was eating chocolate! She hadnt even started him on solid food yet she told us! We'll see what happens I know she has sent no documentation in as I sent ours to her and into the court today. Maybe she wont even show since we have not mentioned it or heard from her. Thanks for all the comments, I do appreciate the support....and we wil NEVER stop fighting! The workers from our foster care class said the only reason they did not want to certify us now was because of all we have gloing on with the boys and wanting to get married next year. Thanks again!

Vallie - posted on 08/07/2009

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To answer your question why he did not visit his children. she replied eariler that he did not know where she left too. she just showed up one day with two babies. It is very easy to critizes fathers and mothers for not acting sooner but if you do not know where to start then you feel hopeless. child custody takes time and a lot of hard ache. Please remember to all, do no harm. we may not always like how someone else parents but are they taking care of the child. as for child protective services stepping in make sure they have your current phone number and get a copy of their un/ substaniated claims for your records. it is very important that you get a lawyer that understands you and wants the best for your children.

Coli - posted on 08/07/2009

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Do not do verbals....writing is the key...she can and will deny anything done on a verbal and trying to disprove her lies requires witnesses other than you...so anything and everything needs to be in writing...it only makes it harder for her to lie about and erodes her credibility when she does lie.

Coli - posted on 08/07/2009

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The other thing I forgot to mention...Document everything! EVERYTHING EVERYTHING!!!!

Coli - posted on 08/07/2009

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I was in nearly this exact situation; the only differences were A the mother was not a lesbian, and B there was only 1 child involved. The key to fighting this is A finding a true Father's Rights Attorney. To accomplish this I spent nearly 8 hours on the phone. My (now husband, then boyfriend...yeah I took a BIG chance on him!)...lived in Nebraska..where I also live...the case originated in Milwaukee. So I made phone call after phone to any and all "Custody specialist" in Milwaukee (establishing jurisdiction may be an issue, you will need an attorney...you cannot do this solo!) The one question I kept asking every paralegal is who is the leading father's rights advocate that specializes in the Toughest of tough cases.... I was consistantly given one name...and that is who we hired..... it took 3 1/2 years of litigating, and nearly $40,000, but we ended up with an order that reads " we have joint custody with primary placement"...the joint custody is merely a way to save face because courts do not like to take children from their mothers....even when they are not fit. DO NOT LET HIM TERMINATE HIS RIGHTS...HE CAN'T GET THEM BACK WITHOUT A HUGE FIGHT! And make damn sure this is the man you want.....it is a horrible course and it can and will tear you apart...both inside and out... Also a bit of advice, bite your tongue...even if you have to draw blood... 2/3's of what she does she will be allowed to get away with...every minute thing you and he does..will be persecuted! It is not pretty, but it is worth it. We have had his daughter since (by court order) since she was 7...we started when she was 3.

Hope this helped!

Coli~

Jennifer - posted on 08/07/2009

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Let me first say that ya'll are doing the right thing! I am not sure how things work in Florida but I do know that here in Texas it is hard for a father to get custody. He will need to prove that she is unfit to care for the children. Have you seen her home? If you have take pictures if you have problems with the cleanliness, etc... If the chid is calling everyone daddy then it is only because she has confused the child by having the child call everyone daddy. I have read some of the other mom's posts, if you have no legal parental agreement then the custody of the kids is who ever is in possession of them. I am not sure what DCF is but I am assuming it is some form of child protective services. If she has an open case with a state agency such as protective services it would be important to go through them and talk to them about the possibility of assisting you in seeking custody. I have been on both sides of this issue and I would talk to a good attorney regardless of the cost. I would estimate to pay a minimum of $10,000 if you want to gain any ground for these children. Remember if at first you don't succeed try, try again. If she is a crappy mom she will not change and she will only continue to be a crappy mom.

Melinda - posted on 08/06/2009

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Wow I don't know what to say. My husband and I are going through a similar situation. My husband's ex had her baby in October 2007 and she refused to let my husband see the baby at all. We asked for a DNA test which she also refused until we went to court. The judge court orderd a DNA test to be taken within 15 days. She took 2-1/2 months to take the test. Right now we are stuck because I am out of work and my husband has to carry the work load himself. We had a baby of our own almost 7 months ago. We have a lawyer who used up our retainer on postage. Can you believe that? Anyway, we are trying to work with the mom but she is making it extremely difficult. She will only let my husband see the baby and on her terms only. He can only see her by her home and in a public place. Actually seeing her in a public place is good, because the ex is off her rocker. We wish we knew a way around getting partial custody, but right now our finances are little short and she refuses to cooperate if we bring up our lawyer. I guess either way she doesn't cooperate. What should we do? I want my son to know his step-sister and I want a relationship with her too. My husband doesn't get to see her often and I know that it is killing him. Any advice? Oh, we live in Florida. Thanks!

Mimi - posted on 08/06/2009

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you need to know the laws in your state. i am originally from VA....if you are not married, neither parent has custody, you have to go to court. we have joint custody with me having sole physical custody. as for visitation, there are many different things to do. my son's father has "reasonable and liberal visitation." basically that means me and him decide when to visit. none of that every other weekend every other holiday and 2 weeks in the summer mess! as for being in TX, most states to require that the father give permission so my question is why didn't your fiance take her to court as soon as she moved? in any court they will tell you that the visiting parent is responsible for transportation. so she might have been in TX and he can be upset about that, but he could have found a way to go see his kids. i'm not saying this to be mean, but it's the truth. i know plane fare is expensive but i moved to AL in oct 2007 and me and my son's dad made sure that there were plenty of visits. i now live in florida and it is up to my son's father to make sure he sees his child. moving out of the state is no excuse and that is what the courts will tell you, it just makes it harder. i hope this helps!

Billie Jo - posted on 08/05/2009

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At the most you may get joint/split. What I was told when we went for custody is this: married or not and you have a child you automatically have split custody. If she decided to with-hold kids until court she may be able to as we were able to (but chose not to) Also, they may not go easy on him as they will grind him to the bone about why he wasn't around, etc. Also here, his wife was not allowed to enter as judge stated not her concern, so don't be offended if you are not allowed. I think if the kids are not used to him, just flat out taking them from their mom is not hurting her, but them. (my daughters dad tried that) maybe he can go in there with a list of possible custody/visitation arrangements he would like. Appeal to the judge that he is willing to accept anything at this point as long as he gets to see them. We ended up with split custody as her dad fought me for that because that's what he wanted. So, it is 7 days with me and 7 with him. Guess what happened? He never does it, only in the summer. So he thought he was hurting me, but really just hurt her (in the begining) If your husband goes in with out being ignorant, maybe he can get more done. Let her be the ignorant one for all to see. After arrangements are made, keep documents of all the times they were not taken care of etc until you have enough to see a lawyer.
Hope this helps.

Sarah - posted on 08/05/2009

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You could ask the Court to appoint a parenting evaluator to assess the homes/relationships/parents. Parenting evaluators usually make recommendations to the Court regarding the children's placement and custody, and Courts weigh heavily on their opinions. GAL (Guardian Ad Litems) are attorneys that represent the children. You could pursue this avenue as well. I know in WA State, a parent has to give the other parent notice if they are going to move. If they don't then the parent moving could lose custody/residential time. Your best bet is to speak with an attorney. If you're low income you may qualify for reduced fees or a free one. If you don't, then they can be very very expensive. Good Luck!! If your husband hasn't abused, neglected or abandoned his children, then I believe he has a right to be included in parenting his children, and noone has the right to determine otherwise.

Michelle - posted on 08/05/2009

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Where in FL do you live? I live in the Daytona area and my husband and I did get full custody of his son. You need a good lawyer. And you are kind of right- if there was any sort of custody arrangement before she left, she should have asked permission to leave the state. If you are serious about getting full custody, then I think it is actually possible. Your husband should start now with having a plan for child care and be able to prove to the court that he made every effort to see them and will be able to care for them. One issue, not a major one, but you aren't married yet, so he has to plan as though he will be a single father and still provide for them. This will not be cheap, but be sure you have a lawyer that is looking out for the best interest of the kids.

Jill - posted on 08/05/2009

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I agree. We are both also Christians, and praying with all our hearts. And I keep telling him, if God wants us to have these kids it will happen, no matter what anyone says. But we're hopeful. At least we'll be able to visit with them without her. She always stayed and would never leave before. I understand at first cause they didnt really know him, but after they got used to him. I'll let ya'll know what happens with court. Thanks for all your support.

Elizabeth - posted on 08/05/2009

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Well, good luck! Just tell your husband to never give up!! It is worth fighting. As hard and time consuming as it is, every tiny victory will be worth the fight. My husband has been fighting like crazy since the very beginning. My SS BM is horrible and her daddy is a never-ending money pit for her lawyers... I'm sure you can imagine. Every time we see that little boy and he comes running with hugs and kisses, the fighting is so worth it.

Jill - posted on 08/05/2009

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oh, I forgot to mention that she has 2 addresses with the court, both in the same town, and the court has no record of her moving to TX. There was no court ruling about any visitation prior, he had no idea how to do it and works 9-5 6 days a week so it was difficult for him to get the info, so I did it. And we did start keeping a journal as soon as she started skipping visits. They had a verbal agreement of Thursdays and sundays. Well one week Blayk (the two year old going on 3) told his mom "bye" and ran into his fathers old room. She was so mad she borught him over only twice after that and for only 45 minutes each. She couldnt stand that fact that he wanted to be there. And Blaykl got mad both times when she told him they had to go.

Jill - posted on 08/05/2009

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the kids were 1 and 2 at the time we filed, they will be 3 and 2 this november. He did not know how to do all the filing and stuff or have an address until she startecd coming around on Oct 31 (which he had no notice of since they called his parents and he was living with me). The reason they came over on Halloween was because DCF had received a call that there was dog poo and the place was nasty (cant remember all accusations). We talked to DCF in December when they called us again to let us know it would be an on going case. He did not see the kids until november 15th of 2008. She didnt give him a phone number or anything prior to that and on;y a phone call that the baby had been bporn, no number, no contact information nothing, But I understand that we will probably not get full custody and have been told by 2 attornies that the kids have to come back to the state with or without her....Just wanted others opinions about it :-) I do appreciate it. Thanks.

Elizabeth - posted on 08/05/2009

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I agree, you won't get full custody unless there are extreme extenuating circumstances. Does he have any type of court agreement now? If he does, fleeing the state could be considered contempt of court and that could mean jail time. During that time, the kids would be with the father. You can require that she move back to Florida since he did not agree with the move. One question... If they are 2 and 3, why did he wait so long for this? What you need to do is keep a detailed journal of everything. To get custody, you may have to prove that she is not stable.

Betty - posted on 08/05/2009

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The judge will not give your husband full custody. They are way too young to be haveing any visits longer than a week at a time especially if they have only known their dad for two months. Just try for whatever visitation you can get and maybe in a few years he will have 50/50. You will only get full custody if BM dose something very bad to them and that's not something you should hope for. I'm sorry for being so honest with you but that is how it is and getting full custody would be like you and your husband legally kidnaping the kids and very bad for them.

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