Emergency Custody?

I’m Dad. Mom and I recentlly divorced after 21 years (married at 19). No court order about ANYTHING other than granting the divorce. She’s had me arrested twice during this mess, and at 40 that was the first time I’d had that fun. She behaves as though there is some custody order some place. There is not. The oldest (16) was out drinking at 0200 a month ago and was arrested, and the local convenient store let me know that he was coming in buying “blunts and papers”. What should I or can I do? She’s been a good mother and really isn’t what I’d call “abusive”, and I’m not a bitter ex-spouse. I don’t want our boys (10,14,16) thinking either of us is in any trouble, but this behaviour continues despite pleas from the boys and myself. I’ve been told to file for custody, but I have no idea how to do that and the courthouse says I’d need an attorney. Doubtful, but I’m not knowledgeable enough to call them on that. I also don’t want the boys thinking that I’m going to be equally ugly as she currently is. I’m completely broke at this point and have contemplated hitting the road with them, but they’re doing well here and that’s obviously more imnportant to me than her. Any ideas?

At this point the kids didn’t know about her relationship. I gambled that it would be history before they became aware, or aware that I already knew:
Date: Mon, 4 Jun 2012 23:52:24 +0000
Dad you really shouldn’t really about mom, she doesn’t like me telling you where she is all the time so it puts me in a awkward position. You know I would let you know if anything suspicious was going on and I’d be the first one to do it. I don’t need Another male in my life, I have a perfectly fine dad and I wouldn’t ever let that happen.

Wed, Dec 5, 2012 at 11:06 PM: Could you get me some cold medicine like nyquil or something because mom keeps ignoring me, and she told me she won’t get it for me because I haven’t met XXXXX(boyfreind). I really need medicine and she doesbt care about how I feel she just wants to worry about XXXX and his kids. If it were his kids then she’d have them medicine in no time at all but she could care less about me. I really really need medicine. Can you get me some nyquil?

ME: Yep. When? And are you saying she said “she won’t get it for me because I haven’t met XXXXX.”? Her words to you?

I’d like some by tonight so I can sleep and yeah.

ME: It’s after 2300 boy. That’s okay. Let’s do everything youuuuuuuuuu want to do ha ha. Where’s mom?

She just got home. This is the third night that I had asked her fir medicine and she has just " Forgot " about me. She makes me even more sick.

ME: Sorry, man. What are your symptoms so I can get the right fix?

My chest hurts. I have a runny nose. I’m coughing a lot, I have a headache, I have chills , I feel week, my throat hurts and I can’t sleep at all. Mom said that she hasn’t gotten me meducine because I won’t meet XXXXX. She also wont buy me more contacts because I haven’t met XXXXX. The contacts I’m wearing right now are 3 months old just because I haven’t met XXXXX everything is just about XXXXX. She also ditched us on Thanksgiving. I had to eat my buddy’s leftover Thanksgiving food from his family because she didn’t make us anything. And she also made it clear that she wouldn’t be with us on Christmas. She said me and XXXXX would bring up the gifts for XXXXX while she was spendin Christmas with XXXXX. She doesn’t care about us. She is always making you out to look like a bad father too. You do more for us in a day then she would do in a year. It pisses me off too because she is always being sarcastic when we talk about you. She is always saying " Oh your dad is a terrific father!" Sarcastically and its not even something to be sarcastic about. You are a great father. I’d rather live with you then her. You actually listen to us.

ME: You know what, XXXXX? After your brother getting in trouble at 0200 for drinking, and you guys aparently on your own many nights, I think this has gone on long enough. You saw what happened my last two attempts to stop it (DVPO clearly states her and I can communicate for reasons of child welfare and visitation, but I’ve been arrested twice now, a month apart. First was for an email that didn’t pertain to the boys enough for her, and the second for being in her apartment complex to pick the boys up). I don’t hate your mom or hope she gets mad, but when my family suffers and I can stop it, I will. (I called DSS a day later, and after MUCH thought. DSS is busy, but enough people said that needed to happen. Made me feel like what I think about her).

TWO DAYS LATER: I noticed something quite funny. Yesterday night when I left for Scott’s the fridge and pantry were dead empty. Mom know that but never cares to buy groceries for us. Now I walk in the pantry and fridge are slammed full. I guess when she figured put DSS was coming she wanted to make it look like she actually has food here all the time. I thought that was amusing.

ME: You may be correct, but you could easily be just as wrong. Your mother and I buy groceries when we get paid, and sometimes there’s a lot more month left than there is money. I have no problem chatting about stuff like that, but make sure I’m the only one you discuss it with until both of us have the facts. It’s very tempting for you guys to team-up against your mom. Don’t. You know I’ll be as helpful to you as I can, but you also know that I will commit the same energy to correcting rumors and innuendo. Cool?

I know. I wasn’t going to say anything about it. I just thought it was funny.

ME: I know. We all could use more laughs right now.

And by the way, what are we supposed to tell the DSS today?

ME: When is DSS coming and what is your understanding of the nature of the visit? And you’re asking me what you are you supposed to say? Just the truth. If you’re hope is for the return of your mom (NOT WIFE), it will be easy for all to see love speaking. That doesn’t guarantee anything and I’d be surprised if her plans were ever rethought, but if your words come from anywhere other than the heart they’ll bring their own guarantee. You don’t want that one. Nothing of any value comes with it. You will reap what you sow. Sow truth. If you think I’m here smoking crack or eating pills, then you better share that as well. Remember, DSS is social services. The SS was dissolved in 1945. Get it?

Finally was convinced to call DSS. A home visit and interview with each of them and the ex-wife took place two days later. I know that’s a tough job in many ways, so I was impressed by their responsiveness to a non-emergency situation. Then, two days after the interview I recieved a NOTICE OF HEARING regarding hair follicle drug testing, custody and child support. It was dated for the previous day, which seems to indicate it might have been a response to my actions, but that’s subjective. I’m unconcerned with drug or alcohol testing, and that’s been the case for a couple of years now. She knows that also. I actually found it amusing when in conference at the first (and only) hearing her attorney told me “The judge is going to have to learn of your drug abuse and alcoholism, and you even look like you’re on something right now”. That was the response after I refused to accept the terms of their offer. No big deal, and I’d probably try to take advantage of history also if the tables were turned.

While I would much prefer having the kids with me instead of hearing the melodrama about her, they’re not going to die of exposure or burn the house down, and they’re only a couple of miles away. Things could be MUCH worse. She’s now telling the kids that she’s (them) moving out of state soon, but I kinda feel like she tells them that knowing they will tell me. But the kids see that also, so it hasn’t required any explaination on my part. And the threats of not seeing them because I won’t pay child support or schedule visitations are ridiculous, and documented as such. I made sure cash went from my hand through the kids’ before getting to her, so they even think that’s funny now. And her and I’ve been paying child support since the oldest was born. I will continue to do so, with or without any other stimulus. That’s love, not a weapon, and even still unemployed I’m happy and proud to do it. Our oldest son (16) on the direction this is going. The 14 and 11 year-olds concur, again without my selling anything:

[i]"… so now you know how I felt when you and your brothers told me about XXXXXX during the ride home with her this summer. Remember, in her own words I made no attempt to even speak with her while you guys were gone. I was done, and then you and you’re brothers feelings reminded me that “done” is not “retired”. Nor is Dad. I listened to you guys then, and wasn’t trying to make this all more difficult. I know it can feel that way. It does for me also."

“I’m cool with that dad, If the judge needs to talk to me I’ll tell him straight up how I feel, no Bs. If moms goin to push this any further I guess I’m gonna have to step in again, Even though I don’t like being involved. Gotta do what you gotta do sometimes.”[/i] (yes, only 16.)

Besides a vaguely worded and liberally applied DVPO, as a notice and not an order and with no other order than for absolute divorce, can I move the kids into my house (same town/schools/church) or would that be unwise considering the DSS issue, pending hearing or any other reason? I’ve tried to take the “high road” and to minimize disruption for the kids by behaving like I didn’t know we had EQUAL say in the matter, both pre-DVPO and since, but the kids figured that out also. The unsolicited and documented desires of all three kids is to be here instead of there, and for almost a year now. On top of that, my public defender seems surprised that I haven’t filed suit against her. The first time she had me arrested I spent the night in jail (first time EVER being arrested) and the case was dismissed. The second time it was 5 days (holiday weekend, no secured bond as a now “repeat offender”). My public defender is optimistic. I really don’t want to stoop down to her level, and I don’t have/can’t get an attorney of my own to do so anyway. Also, realizing that this is all “my side” of it, I’m trying to approach it as such, and not as “he said/she said”. Soooooooo any ideas?

Link to previous history:

I’m not quite following what is going on here, and your fact pattern is a little convoluted for this forum. It seems you be best served by a full consultation to discuss your many issues including DSS involvement, DVPOs and the other pending lawsuit involving a notice of hearing for drug testing.

To briefly answer your questions:

You can file custody without an attorney, but the clerks cannot give you legal advice, so if you can’t answer your own questions, you may need an attorneys help.

Without a court order to the contrary, each parent has as much right to custody as the other, so you are free to move the children, but I would avoid situations of tug-of-war with the children as this is frowned upon by the court.