Child custody question


#1

Hi ,
I am a mother of twin boys who are 7 years old. My stox left the home approx. 17 months ago as he had had previous affairs.

For almost the first year he only wanted to see the boys every other wkend. I have no family in NC so when I was sick he would not help me with the boys…basically would say “you have primary custody”.

Approx 6 months ago he started taking the boys on Thurs. eve as well as his every other weekend. This has worked well as it gave me a break to catch up on errands and work.

Their dad initially moved into an apt. 3 miles from our home, then approx. 45 min away and now will be moving close by at the beginning of april. I have not left the home as they would be rezoned for another school and I feel it would be tough on them to leave their friends.

We are working on our consent order as our absolute divorce will be April 1st. He has made a few comments that if i decide to work part time or lose my job he will file for more custody to “balance the money” he has to pay me.
I am an educator and hopeful all will remain well with my position, but I feel he is trying to scare me. He also has said that in 6 years (when he is done paying alimony) he would like to have the boys more . Thiis is very hard for me as the routine in their life is already interupted even on the Thurs nights (winter coats left at dats, homework left there etc).
He says he is a good dad and deserves it. He did coach their basketball last season so he has been involved with them. He immediatialely introduced them to his girlfriend months ago and they all have stayed overnight at her home. He has gotten angry at me and kept them from coming home on their reg. scheduled Sunday eve. (I received a voice mail from my son asking where I was ).

I am so afraid he will fight for more custody because he is crazy about money. Is there anything I can do to prevent this? Can I word it in our seperation papers that before custody is changed we have to go through a process, possibly a full evaluation, counseling and mediation prior to court. The boys do love their dad, and sometimes I think they are favoring him more because he buys them video games (teen rated though) , takes them fun places and I am the one who feels to hold them to chores, disipline, homework, etc. Sometimes I feel I am not the "fun " parent anymore (but I still do plan outings and play dates as they used to have to keep life ordinary)

I have read that sometimes children are interviewed in judges chambers about custody. I am afraid they would say they would like to go with their dad as it is more fun. Also, my boys sometimes say things impulsively whithout really thinking…they are 7.
My ex has 3 attorneys (one is now a judge ) in his family in PA so I feel he has the guidance to make things work. Also, his girl friend is a marriage/family/child therapist (no children and never married) and I am frightened she will talk the children about things they need to say or work it the way it needs to be so they are chosen.

I am so sorry for such a long winded email, but as you can tell this is very hard on me.

Thank you for your time.


#2

Once you enter into a consent order regarding custody the schedule cannot be changed unless the other side files a motion to modify the same. To do so your ex will have to prove that there has been a substantial change in circumstances which affects the best interests of the children. His reduction in support payments would not qualify as such a change.
You cannot include language which prevents future modification, since the future is unknown, but you can include language that requires the two of you to attend mediation prior to the court’s intervention.
Sometimes in certain cases children can be interviewed by the judge, but rarely does it happen unless there is a good reason, and rarely with children as young as yours.