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Divorce in the US and custody - help!

(8 Posts)
kaftanlady Sat 25-Jul-15 14:01:58

My sister and her husband are splitting up.

He's American, and she's a citizen (from the UK originally).

They are just at the beginning of the process.

He's very wealthy, she's not. They have a 6 year old DD. She is not concerned about the money, (so far he seems to be doing the right thing) she's concerned about custody of her children. Her MIL, who lives locally, is a toxic old lady, and part of the reason the marriage broke down. My sister's not at all keen on him getting shared custody as it means her kids basically being brought up by this woman.

She's moved out of the huge family house and is living in what we in the UK would call a studio flat with her DD. She has no job (but is looking for one asap).

What would happen if he decided to fight her for custody? Do courts over there tend to favour the resident parent for custody like in the UK? Or does money talk? Will his huge wealth help him win custody? Under what circumstances do US courts take children off their parents - is she at risk of this happening?

Although it's obvious on a personal level that keeping her kids away from the toxic MIL is the right thing to try to do, the MIL isn't physically abusive - but the courts aren't going to take that into account are they? There's no evidence of anything untoward.

What legal rights does the father have?

I understand if my sister wants to come home he can likely prevent her from doing so if he chooses, is this right? Does it make any difference whether he has a custody arrangement as to what legal say he has over his kids leaving the country?

I know the real answer is for her to see a lawyer and she is going to in the week. But any help or advice would be much appreciated.

Thanks in advance.

(Regular but namechanged as I'm going to share this thread with my family)

petalsandstars Sat 25-Jul-15 14:10:44

If they're married surely she will be entitled to assets? Or is there a prenuptial agreement? Horrid situation

babymouse Sat 25-Jul-15 14:23:15

Some of the advice given is going to depend on the state they are living in. Divorce laws do vary.

kaftanlady Sat 25-Jul-15 14:47:36

I'm not sure why she's not in the house tbh but yes she will be entitled to money.

AFAIK she doesn't have access to that money right now though should she need it for fighting a custody battle.

cadidog Sat 25-Jul-15 14:52:07

In most states 50% custody per parent is the expected norm. it'd be very difficult to deviate from that even with direct abuse.

kaftanlady Sat 25-Jul-15 16:43:16

Is it normal for DC to split their time 50% between both parents in the states rather than having a resident and non resident parent? (Or is that not what 50% custody means?)

Iflyaway Sat 25-Jul-15 16:48:24

I don't have a clue on the US situation but looking at this website might put you in the direction of your answers. Good luck.

babybarrister Sat 25-Jul-15 16:48:28

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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