Modification of child custody

My boyfriend has 4 boys with his ex-wife. She is the sterotypical nightmare ex & then a lot. We have MANY concerns for the boys which have been building over the past 5 years or so & I have been documenting as much as I can via social media, he has voice mails saved on his phone, his mother has witnessed a number of troubling things in person & his sons have all told us awful things themselves. I am going to tell you an exhaustive set of issues & circumstances so you can have an accurate understanding of what we & the boys face. God, where to start? Well, when he was still married to her she was the stay at home mom (please note she also had young twin girls age 5 or so from her first marriage when they married), he was a Real Estate Attorney, opening his own practice about 2 or 3 years into the marriage. Even so, she was very uninvolved with the kids, so much so as to lock herself in her room with the most recent baby while the girls & later also the older boys, fended for themselves. She did not cook, clean, do laundry, help with homework, eat with the kids as a family, give baths, put them to bed, etc, etc. She breast fed the current baby & she saw that as her only responsibility. My bf was left to do the rest as best he could when he got home on top of working full time as an attorney. As time went on & with each boy born she got worse. As the girls got older they were then also expected to do the housework, take care of the older boys, etc. When my bf finally had enough & chose to leave, his step daughters, then age 13, actually chose to leave the house with him & along with their father they successfuly petitioned the court to go live with their father & his new wife in Virginia. Some evidence they used were pictures of the dirty house. Jump forward to present day (the girls are now 20) & his boys with her are 14, 11, 9 & 7. My bf had no choice financially (after almost 2 years of paying $2000 in child support & post separation support each month, mortgage, rent for his law office, rent for his apartment) but to move back home to his parents’ house in his home state of Massachusetts. She does not have the boys call to speak to their father, ever. She never answers his calls & very rarely returns his calls so he can speak to them. He has gone 2-3 months at a time with no contact with the boys at all. She is very uncooperative at times when my bf has visitation, even going so far as to refuse to give them to him when he has flown down there, rented a car & has flights back to Ma. for he & the 4 boys for Xmas, all because he refused to sign some document she wanted him to sign absolving her from marital debt right then at the door. She has purposefully kept him waiting 5 hours or more to get the boys by not being at the meeting place on time or not being home with the boys. She occasionally calls the police on him when dropping off the boys & causes a scene in front of them because he’s dropping them off early to go to the airport & catch his flight home of all things. She quite obviously talks very badly & lies to the boys about his conduct such as telling them he cheated on her, stole jewelry & other valuables from her when he moved out, that he doesn’t send them enough money so they can’t eat or pay the electric bill because they have said these things to us. She has actually had the oldest boy call my bf & TELL him they didn’t have enough money for food or the electric bill & the company was going to shut it off when he was just 10 or so. She also told the girls father that my bf sexually abused the girls so he would have no further relationship with them because she was mad that the girls left with my bf. They now know about this story as they were old enough to know & they were very upset & have said that their mother absolutely lied about that. They do not have a good relationship with their own mother & from the day they left they have refused to ever spend the night with her again. She used to basically just sit in the house with the boys with the blinds down, not answering the door or leaving unless it was to go to a fast food restaurant. No activities, no playdates, no playground, etc. They had no socialization with other kids until they started school. The youngest has separation axiety at times & is socially awkward & acts younger than he is because unfortunately he has been the one who has been cooped up in the house with no one but her to interact with for the longest. She has gotten a LITTLE better with this but I think this is only because the boys are older now & all in school. She consistently did not get the boys to school when then only 3 of them were in school, until we got VERY involved with the school & let her know we were watching her. Between the 3 they had over 85 absences & tardies coming in after 10am & the school year wasn’t even 3/4 over yet. The school even tried to get a social worker involved to try to get her to get them to school but she wouldn’t answer the phone or door. Mind you, they live 1/4 mile from the school. The boys, especially the oldest has really sufferd from so much missed school & lack of help at home. He is very behind in reading, writing & math skills to this day, still not knowing his multiplcation tables at 14. My bf’s mother is a retired highschool teacher of 32 years & when we have the boys up here for visits she works with them all, whether it be writing skills, reading books & practicing math. In the past 2 years, the ex alone has made the unilateral decisions to change the schools that 2 of the boys go to without even mentioning it to my bf let alone discussing it with him. Issues regarding their education are never discussed with him nor is their healthcare unless it’s to make up some ailment they don’t have like Gluten allergies for 2 of them, asthma for 1. (We ruled out the gluten issue by doing an elimination diet with them last summer & there were no reactions to gluten what so ever & 1 boy has summer allergies but is not asthmatic) She has insisted for years on saying that all 4 of the boys are on The Autism Spectrum & that her ex husband abandoned her with 4 special needs children. She shouts this all over the internet, on her blog she had, random forums, Facebook & I have many print outs of it. They do not exhibit any signs of being on the Spectrum per ALL of their educators we spoke to at length about it with & one test for the youngest was negative, (which she secured for free through TEAACH, wasting time & resources for others truly in need. She has another one of the boys on a waiting list to be tested too.) yet she tells the boys themselves they are & anyone else who will listen to & pity her. She even went so far as to send one of them to a free summer camp for Autistic children. That boy gets very mad if anyone says he’s Autistic. In the car once one summer the oldest said “well mom says you’re Autistic” & he blew up. It’s not emotionally healthy for them for her to be constantly telling them there’s something wrong with them. I sincerely believe that she has a very serious Personality Disorder (Narcissistic Personality Disorder, Antisocial Personality Disorder, Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy) & actually gets gratification from the attention she gets when she puts herself forward as a stupendous single mother of 4 boys on The Spectrum who is doing it all on her own because she was “abandoned” by her ex husband. Not ONLY does she tell people that ALL of her children are on The Spectrum, but that she HERSELF is an “Aspie” or a sufferer of Aspergers Syndrome & she herself is on “The Spectrum”. Also undiagnosed & self proclaimed. It’s sick. The oldest has told us himself that she still locks herself in her room when they are all home & he has been in charge of the younger 3 for years. You can see it when we have them in the summer. He tries to be the parent figure as best he can be as a child. They are all left to their own devices, to do or not do homework, watch TV, play on their DS games, whatever they want, unsupervised. The oldest told us “She texts me from her bedroom every now & again to see what’s going on or if someone screams”. She rarely cooks food but relies on fast food or the oldest says he “microwaves bread with cheese on it or something” for dinner for all of the boys. Two of them have told us that if one of them throws up, she doesn’t clean it up & it can stay there for months. There is an ant & moth infestation in the house. There is no heat in the winter & no AC in the summer months. They are both broken. On top of all of this, she dumped the oldest on well meaning people, the family of his best friend, this summer, with not enough clothes & no sneakers, which they were kind enough to buy for him, only to leave him there for 5 WEEKS without checking on him once or letting them know when she would be back. All so she could be an extra, making $54 a day in a film production 2 hours away in Wilmington. She spent more money in gas than what she made in a day or 2 each week on set. While she was gone she & the 3 younger boys stayed with a Facebook “friend” in a 1 bedroom apartment. She left the boys is this man’s care while she was on set. We were told by the family who she left the oldest with that they saw her in town one weekend after she left him with them & she didn’t even try to come see her son or check on him. She is now desperately trying to recruit a new Sugar Daddy & has been dragging all 4 of the boys 2 hours away to Fayetteville to some guy’s house for the past 3 weekends in a row. She dated him briefly this year, they broke up twice & she is obviously trying to get him back. We were actually just told by her oldest son via internet, as I type this, that they are now AGAIN in Fayetteville, away from home, sleeping in sleeping bags on the floor of the house of the man she is trying to rope into being her financial support. Very stressfull for the children & for the responsible adults who actually care for them, to say the least. She doesn’t clean their house. The oldest only showers once a week or so because as he said himself “the bathroom is so gross I don’t like to go in there”. The house was apparently bad enough that the he called DSS on his own mother about a month ago, & went to stay with his best friend’s family again & did not want to go home. This is her 2nd DSS visit. The last was for a dead rabbit in a cage on the back porch last summer. The oldest told us it stayed there for 6 months. She obviously had warning they were trying to come to the house & got rid of it. Now we have DSS involved again & they have interviewed all of the boys multiple times. Upon doing so the first time at school, they were so alarmed by what they heard that they immediately went to the house. She hid from them. When they finally got in, the social workers told her the house was uninhabitable as it was & they could not stay in the house until it was cleaned, reinspected & ok-d by them. She was forced to stay with 3 of the boys with their bus driver at her house that night, but even she said they could only stay one night. They then stayed at some man’s house while he was in Florida. It took her over a week to get the house habitable & they were given the ok to live in it again. She has nobody to turn to or willing to help her anymore because she is manipulative, uses people & is looking for hand outs. Her own mother wants nothing to do with her but to be fair she’s crazy too. She has no money for Xmas, to pay her back property taxes or to fix the heat/ac but refuses to get a job, even now after my bf is no longer paying $650 a month in post separation support after 7 years of doing so. But she can spend at least $400 in gas money for her Chevy Suburban to drive back & forth 2 hours each way, 4 times now as of tonight, to try to rope this ex-boyfriend back in. I tell you this very LONG drawn out list of things so you can see what we are dealing with & why we (including the boys half sisters who are more than willing to testify in court against their mother if it helps get the boys away from her) are very concerned for the boys’ safety & wellbeing on SO many levels. My bf, being rather beaten down & dejected by this whole horrible situation, is depressive & convinced that this stuff is not enough to get a change of custody. He feels she needs to be a drug addict or have the kids taken from her by DSS. With the recent DSS involvement again & speaking to his eldest son more often now that the boy has a secret cell phone given to him by my bf’s mother, he sees a much clearer picture of how their life is & he is stressed out & despondant about not being able to rescue his children from their situation. We have a stable, loving home I purchased specifically with the boys in mind, here in Ma., a local, loving & very close familial support system & nothing but their best interests in mind. Please, do we have any chance of bringing evidence like this to court & actually getting the boys?

A judge will make an order on custody based on the ‘best interests of the minor children.’ Based on the extensive facts you have shared, it sounds like your boyfriend has a good argument to get physical custody. I would advise that you have a consultation with an attorney here in North Carolina. Your boyfriend is mistaken in his opinion about custody; judges certainly modify custody orders all of the time without showing that the other parent is a drug addict or that DSS has taken the children from that parent. It takes an extreme circumstance such as a drug addiction or violence to warrant supervised visitation only or to terminate parental rights, but to simply modify an existing custody order you simply need to show a significant change in circumstances, and that a modification is the the best interests of the minor children.

Thank you SO much for taking the time to read my “book” of circumstances & reply. I really appreicate it very much. I will relay this to my boyfriend & see if we can arrange to have a consultation with a North Carolina family law attorney. Hopefuly we can get the boys away from her & out of their terrible living situation ASAP.