Do you ask for more to just settle for less?

Currently my X and I have joint custody of our 2 children. She has NEVER involved me in any mj decisions in their lives. Due to her unstable situation btn her and her b/f (domestic violence), I’m taking her to court in order for me to be the Primary Care Giver and right now I am just asking it to remain joint custody but she is being VERY difficult. My question is…should I ask for full custody considering her situation and our relationship( as far as not being able to work together)? It is almost IMPOSSIBLE to carry on a logical conversation with her. She believes she is always right or she just hangs up the phone. Not only does she not have a job,no house,no car in her name,lives w/ her on again off again b/f(which they can’t get along&police have even been out there),doesn’t involve kids in any sports or support themin what they do with me AND lies to children about me. I’m am happily remarried, they have a step sibiling, they love their stepmom whose practically been w them since they can remember, we have them involved in church and sports. On top of everything, they want to live with us. They’ve told her. WHAT should I do…should I ask for full custody even if I willing to let it continue to be joint and with me being the Primary Care Giver? What are the odds of getting full custody? What does that depend on? Should I just go in asking for what I’ll settle for and hope the judge see’s that I’m not being too picky or go full force. Just a little confused.

If you have never been to court for custody then the courts would look at the current situation and want to know why this is no longer in the best interest of the child/children. Your attorney can show this by recordings of telephone conversations between you and your ex trying to discuss decisions about the children. And by showing that your home is more stable.
Your job is not to show that she’s a bad mother or unstable, but rather that you are the best choice for primary custodial parent. That you are more stable, that your child/children will benefit more from living with you primarily rather than continuing the current situation. You being remarried with another child in the home should only help your case. Not that single parents don’t deserve to have their children, but sometimes, as in this case it seems, that is not what is best for the children. You need to show the court that the children are your main concern. That you intend to do everything in your power to see that they are cared for and you do not feel that their current situation is healthy.
Most of the time judges know that joint physical & legal custody can only work if the parents are willing to work together. If you can not discuss matters with the other parent and you can not agree or include the other parent in major decisions then joint custody can not work. You should ask for primary custody with your ex having visitations. You should take pictures of your home, your children’s rooms, the neighborhood, school. Anything to show the court what life primarily would be like. The police reports of domestic violence at her home, especially if the children were present at the time, should be given/requested by your attorney.

The only way to decide to go forward with this is to choose whether or not you can live with “worst case scenario”. I can see no reason that the courts would give primary custody to your ex if you filed and show cause, so worst case would be that things remain as they are now. Probable that the court will decide to grant temporary primary custody and plan to see if things get cleared up at the ex’s. The courts would like for all parents to work things out equally so that the children get to have both parents in their lives, but they realize that this is not always possible.

My suggestion is to ask for primary custody and if things clean up at the ex’s then settle for keeping things as they are. Be ready for the ex to really be angry about you filing though, up to telling the children that you are taking them away from her…be prepared for things to get really ugly.

Thanks for the reply. Yes you are exactly right. I filed for a motion in June and was granted a red calendar date for Sept… She was very angry, not only did she tell them I had hired an attorney and was going to take them away from her forever she also told them I beat her all the time when we were married, which I NEVER did. If anything she abused me!

She finally got an attorney and now wants me to sign a temp/pre non-judicial order giving me the role of primary care giver and having the kids the majority of the time,for the 1st semester of school. (Her attorney got her to let our visitation with them flip flop over the summer so she’d get her life in order and guess what, it’s been 3 mo’s and nothings changed).

She say’s she wants to see how we handle the kids during school(like we never had them during school before, whatever). I feel like we are getting away from the real reason for filing. It’s not a matter of it depending on how they do in school with me, (which, honestly they’ll probably do better) it’s the point to get them out of that unstable situation. Her attny was supposed to have these papers to us almost 1 wk ago and supposedly she’s been out of town and I’m expecting them early this week. I really don’t want to sign any temp. papers. Especially with my attorney telling me that I have an 80% chance of winning. We are really just ready to get this over with but we will review them.
This has been going on for about 5 years now and she keeps promising it will get better, that she’ll get a job, they are going to get married, they’ll start going to church, they’ll stop fussing infront of the children, stop drinking infront of them and the list goes on…She’s had NUMEROUS opportunities to get straightened out and has not. We have had our attorney draw up papers numerous time but she’s promise all would change and temp. it somewhat did but not for long. I just can let my kids keep enduring this rollercoaster. Any other advice you may have will be greatly appreciated.

I suggest that you keep the calendar court date and see what they have to “offer”. If you feel the real reason you are filing is being overlooked then make sure to keep it front & center on your paperwork.
Despite promises, domestic violence situations rarely change without drastic measures. I would suggest even to go so far as to say that if you have proof (police reports) when the children were present that you have the abuser named as being a person that is not allowed to have contact with them. As long as you can prove that this person is a possible danger to the children, the courts will allow that stipulation. Make sure that the boyfriend gets a subpoena to court for this.
You can suggest to the mother that other arrangements can be worked out for visitations because you do not want to keep the children from her, but you will keep them from being subjected to that lifestyle.
Do not sign any type of temporary order agreeing to any type of custody situation that you do not feel comfortable with. Have the attorney’s change the agreement to you having primary custody during the school session 09-10 and that during summer break other visitation arrangements will be made. If they won’t agree to this, keep the Sept. date on the calendar. Don’t settle for less that what you want. Again, this is just my opinion, but if you feel that living with you is what is right for your children because of the situation they are in now, not just petty reasons, then you should file. After all, even if you don’t win and things remain how they are now, you will know you did everything in your power to protect your children. And when they are older, the children will know this as well…

Thanks sooo much for the advice. That was our mindset going into this, that if we did lose atleast the kids and ourselves knew that we did what we thought was in the best interest for them and when they got older they would see that (they even do now). We know beyond a shadow of a doubt that we ARE doing the right thing, just hope a judge does. Thanks again.