Step Parent Rights


My daughter and her ex husband have joint custody of their three children, the oldest one will turn nine shortly. They have been divorced for five years and he was rarely at home when they were together. So he spent very little time with the children. She only asked him to be at home on Sunday afternoon to spend with the kids and he would not do that. It was only after he let her know he was involved with his current wife that he started spending some time with the kids.

My daughter has always had primary physical custody of the children. They are very intelligent, social, and involved in extracurricular activities, active in church and very happy in general. It is evident they love their mom and there are many times when the middle one does not want to go with her dad. The girls come home upset sometime even to the point of one bursting out crying and telling her mom that she was afraid that her daddy was going to get his gun out from under his bed and kill her (talking about my daughter) and the younger one starting crying and said, me too.

He is trying to get custody of the children. His reasoning is, it is his turn. I’m feel confident that the reason is to get out of paying the child support, since he is rarely home.

Now the facts are that he is on the road at least half the year, probably two thirds and has an apartment in another state. His schedule is constantly changing. So basically, in my mind, what he is asking is for the judge to award the kids to his wife. Now I cannot see this happening but, I’ve seen stranger things happen.

What, if any laws, are there to stop a child from being awarded to a dad who is away most of the time where the wife would be the primary care giver? What is my daughter’s best course of action? She has a lawyer but I would like some input from you guys.

If possible can you site case law that either allowed or prevented this from happening?



A Court is hesitant to upset the status quo and will never rule in favor of a step parent over a biological parent unless the biological parent is a threat to the well being of the children. If your daughter has proof that the father is threatening the children with a gun, then she can get full custody over this issue alone and should pursue this immediately if she feels her children are in danger! NO court will award children into the sole care of a step parent! His work schedule works against him and he really has no chance of sole custody unless he can prove that your daughter is unfit as a parent. Sounds like he doesn’t need any custody, in my opinion. She needs to get her attorney working for her asap!


I must have worded my statement incorrectly. To my knowledge, he is not threatening to hurt the kids with a gun. They are afraid that he is going to kill their mother with the gun. Based on this fear in them, you would think he had said something to make them think this.


Your daughter’s ex cannot get custody of the children because he feels like it is his turn. In order to modify custody he must prove that there has been a substantial change in circumstances which affects the children’s best interests. Based on these facts he has no case to modify custody.