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Custodial mother has complaints about father's home, his girlfriend, his financial irresponsibility, and his use of pot

Your Question:
I have custody of my two children. The divorce/custody finalized in July 2005. In the past there was abuse from my ex-spouse and I knew that he had a problem using pot- but my attorney did not think this would go far in the court system. He recommended I get what I want (the kids) and go back to court later because my ex has a lot of family willing to testify in court and lie about me. Recently, I learned he is living with a girlfriend who likes to go out to the bar who has a 15 yr. old girl living at home. He did not tell me this until 3 weeks later. My kids are sleeping on a couch together in a mobile home during visitation (every other weekend and misc. visitation) and when he picked up the kids last he appeared to be stoned. I am keeping good records. I should also mention that I am engaged to a man that has known the kids for four years, who is living in the home with us, and we will have a new child in April. My ex is also not paying child support, and refuses to pay bills he was supposed to pay. My job is a preschool teacher and my ex works for his own construction company with his family where he claims to only make $600 a month. I also am working on getting a job that pays more approximately 60 miles away, hopefully in the fall of this year.

I know this is a complex situation but I would appreciate any advice you would have for me.

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My Answer:

Thanks for writing, and sorry for your troubles.

You didn't ask any specific questions, so that means I have a wildcard on what I get to write.

He is living with a woman, and you are living with a man. His woman likes to go to bars, along with millions of other law-abiding parents in this country. Unless she's a criminal or child abuser, drop it. She may not be your taste in women, but a court won't care.

His girlfriend's 15 year old daughter is living in his home. You're about to have another child in your home. Unless his girlfriend's daughter is a seriously disturbed young lady who has a negative influence on your children, drop it. Further, it shows that another mother trusts your ex to be around her own child. So, I'm not sure how far you'll get.

You think he's using pot while supervising the children. Without evidence, you should drop it. With evidence, you should concentrate on the tangible impact it has on the children. If he's smoking a joint in front of them, it's relevant. But if he's sneaking tokes in the bathroom, and they have no idea what he's doing, then he's probably like millions of other parents in this country. None may deserve parent of the year awards, but it's not bad enough to grab a court's attention. If he's arrested and convicted of a drug violation, then there's your evidence. If he is so stoned that he crashes the car with the kids inside, that's a huge deal too.

If he's shirking his financial responsibilities to the children, then you can ask the court to enforce it.

If you believe he is lying about his income, it's up to you to prove otherwise. Most courts will assume that an adult without a disability can earn at least minimum wage on a full-time basis, which is more than $600 per month.

Finally, the one parenting issue that I think is relevant are the seeming inadequate sleeping arrangements in his home. Depending upon your kids' ages and genders, it may be reasonable to ask a court to eliminate overnights in the father's home until he can provide each of them with a private bed.

Now, if you had any specific questions, write again and list them.

Good luck.


This website gives common sense advice that is not intended to act as legal guidance nor psychological guidance. The author is neither an attorney nor licensed psychologist. For specific legal guidance or specific psychological guidance, consult with a licensed professional.

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