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Mother is recovering from recent suicide attempt, wants to know how to regain some custody of children

Your Question:
I had a breakdown and physical collapse after a very painful divorce. I was honest and I was a good mother to my kids. I did my best to stay strong but I ran out of money and I just got so worn down and I took an overdose of pills. It just didn't seem to matter to the judge that my ex-husband lied constantly and he even got away with pretending to go bankrupt so he would pay less child support.While I was in the hospital he got an emergency order for full custody and stopped paying support. I don't know what to do. I'm supposed to appear in court and show cause why the order shouldn't become permanent in three days and I have no money, no lawyer, and this big mess on my hands. My ex is taunting me whenever I have a supervised visit that he will soon have the children fulltime and I will be paying child support to him. I'm so diheartened and sad.None of the Dr.'s who treated me have known me long enough to testify in court for me.

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My Answer:

Sorry for what you've been going through.

The court is in the position of doing what it feels is best for the children, given the options.

On one hand, we have a mother who has very recently tried to commit suicide. Whether or not that was your intent, this is what the court believes.

On the other hand, we have a father who is more stable than the mother, even if the court believes that he is a bit of a jerk (per the mother's testimony).

Given such options, the court will not put the kids back with the mother because she may again try to harm herself. If the kids are exposed to such actions, it's not a good thing.

That's your situation, from the court's perspective.

So, how do you have an impact on the future?

It's up to you to convince the court that you are more stable and stronger now. You no longer portray yourself as a helpless victim, but rather as a once overwhelmed mother who has gotten back on her feet, has been regularly attending counseling, and who is ready to take charge of her life and her children.

You may not be able to do that in a mere three days.

However, it would be very reasonable for you to tell the court, "Your Honor, I appreciate the concerns you have about the children being in my care, given my recent breakdown. However, I want to assure you that I'm already getting back on track. I've been going to my counseling, and I intend to continue that. I've been following the prescribed treatment of my psychiatrist. I've found a support group, so I know I won't get back to where I was. I hope, Your Honor, that any orders you make today can be temporary and that you'd consider another hearing in 3 months. I know that there's nothing I can say today that will have an impact today, but in 3 months I believe you will have enough evidence to be comfortable with a more permanent parenting plan."

If you go in as a troubled, depressed victim, I don't think you're going to get very far with the court. This court has already given the father custody in an emergency hearing and given you supervised visitation.

To see a different outcome, you've got to come into court singing a new tune.

Know that this will be a potentially long process, to have a reasonable amount of time with your kids again. The court will need you to prove your stability. You know the work that you must do with yourself, so concentrate on that for a little while. Let visions of having your children again be your guiding light throughout this tough work you must do.

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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