Child being held by ex in retaliation for filing support

My daughter has a son with her ex. They were never married, but lived together until 5 months ago. They decided for her to have primary custody, and he would get visitation, and pay child support. Nothing was ever done through the courts, it was all verbal. He has never paid anything. He is currently on probation for two cases of domestic violence against her, but they never placed a restraining order on him. He has continuously threatened her, stalked her, etc. Yet, out of fear of rocking the boat, she tried to do right by him and let him see their son while she went to school. She works and goes to school full-time, to make a better life for her and the baby, and had no other alternative but let him watch him while she was in school. With no child support, and unable to get any child care through social services, she had covered babysitting except for the weekend, so he would get him Saturday until Sunday. Since he never paid any support, she filed support enforcement papers on him. Once he was served, he picked him up on Saturday, but when time came on Sunday for her to pick him up, he refused. He wouldn’t answer her calls, so she went to his mom’s (where he has been staying) with a deputy, only to be told he had as much right to him as her, and that he didn’t have to hand him over. Now, he is refusing her ANY access to her son! He is staying with his mom and she babysits while he is at work, when she had her own kids removed due to be unfit. My daughter was told that even if the ex’s mom was alone with him, she was not obligated to turn him over because the father left her in charge of the child. We don’t know where to turn. This man is unstable at this point, he is threatening her, her safety, and to “run off with” the baby where she can never see him again. We contacted Legal Aid to be told they do not handle these cases. We have called atty after atty to be told $3000-$5000 UP FRONT. Which may as well be a million to us! We can’t afford an atty, nor can he, but have no where to turn! We were told by the county that she could not file for custody without an atty, but she has no access to one! What is a single mother to do???

If there is no custody order in place then both parents have equal right to the child. If she fears for her child’s safety then she could file for emergency custody.