Temporary Custody Modification

My ex and I have temporary 50/50 shared physical/legal custody of two children. My primary concern has always been that he has never been emotionally connected to the children but I also have safety concerns. My children have a GAL and have been pretty vocal that they are scared of their father and want to live with me. There’s a lot of other history here but I’m condensing it as much as possible.

In July I sent ex an e-mail telling him that I was worried about our teenage son emotionally and that I thought that he needed to be checked on even at night on a regular basis. Son started counseling the next week. Since we alternate weeks, we each take the kids to counseling during our week. Son goes to his second counseling session, the ex speaks with the counselor and they agree that my son is not talking in therapy and ex cancels the appointment scheduled for son during my week without telling me. I speak with the counselor and explain that I am afraid my son will harm himself, she agreed to see him one more time. She said she didn’t think he would harm himself. I decided that I would set my son up with a male counselor when school started. So, last week, while son was in ex’s custody, son did not see a counselor.

On Tuesday my ex took our son to a gun store and attempted to buy him a handgun. Because my ex has a prior DV conviction he was denied, no gun purchase. (Note that I hate guns and would have never allowed my son to have a gun, although I do let him go to the gun range).

On Wednesday our son attempted suicide. My ex was awake, and when our son went to him to tell him my ex had to be convinced before he would take him to the hospital. My ex didn’t bother to attempt to contact me for five additional hours, but that is beside the point now I guess.

Of course my main issue here is safety and judgment. I made my ex aware of my concerns about our son and instead of taking those to heart or following up with me on them to see if I felt like it was okay, he decided to buy our son a gun (although he didn’t get to). If he had bought our son a gun, there is at least the possibility that he would have used that weapon in the suicide attempt. This is just an aside, but during that week my ex was also letting our son spray an aerosol can with a lighter. My son had also spent a significant amount of time alone in his room in the days leading up to this incident (i.e. almost every moment except to use the bathroom or get something to eat) with little interaction from my ex.

So my big question is: Is it possible to get a change in the temporary custody orders based on this incident (there are also other, less important, incidents that have happened)? I would really like for my ex to make changes in the way he is taking care of and supervising the kids. In my opinion he completely dismissed my concerns since he was out trying to secure a handgun for an emotionally troubled child, but truly, the end result is that I want to be able to sleep at night when my kids are with him (I’m sure most parents understand that feeling). If a custody change isn’t warranted is there anything I can do (i.e. require him to take away potential weapons, don’t let him play with lighters, take away medications, require him to give the kids access to phones in case of emergency—as of right now he doesn’t allow them to even know where the home phone is so they can’t call 911 in case of emergency)?

Yes, it sounds like a motion for emergency custody may be in order, but a consultation with one of our attorneys may be the best way to discuss all of your issues and find a path that is most appropriate for your situation.