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What are the chances of us getting custody?

(107 Posts)
MishMooshAndMogwai Tue 26-Jan-16 00:11:23

We're starting to look into seeking custody of 5yo dss. This has been building a long time and when social services got involved we were hopeful that things could progress however things have stalled with them and we feel that we should begin to take matters into our own hands.

Dss lives 100 miles away with his mother who lives a very unstable life. She has no family around her as she has driven them all away, has a history of substance abuse (evidence of which has been found in her house recently), a string of never ending abusive boyfriends and has not been in the same house for more than a few months at a time as she spends her rent money on drugs.

Dss has really been put through the mill and although emotionally he seems to have turned a corner and be improving, his education is suffering as she quite often can't be bothered to take him to school. His attendence is 60% so far this year.

That said, he is always clean and well dressed and I am told the house is spotless which is more than can be said for mine!

I am worried about the unstable nature of his life and his education and also the presence of drugs in the house.

At the moment we live in a nice 2 bedroom house but looking to move. We have 4 yo dd and 6mo dd and the children adore eachother in between the bickering!
The local school that dd attends would be brilliant for him with small classes and loads of one to one attention.
The school he goes to is good but there's only so much they can do if he isn't going!

I know that if he was here he would be so loved and supported and he could achieve so much. I hate the thought of him sitting there on his own with a pot noodle slowly turning into her while his mum screams at her new boyfriend in the kitchen.

Social services have been involved for about 2 years and have decided that despite everything (and that poor boy has seen a LOT) he has not been put at risk enough yet. Yet!

I've encouraged dp to support her but there's only so much he can do from here and she doesn't want to be helped.

I can't sit here and watch a lovely boy be ignored and ruined by a mother who can't/won't look after him.

So if we went for custody now, what would our chances be? I'm not hopeful but we need to try.

SuburbanRhonda Tue 26-Jan-16 00:26:45

Unless social services are actively seeking someone to take over care of this child from his mother, why do you think you'd have a chance?

You do sound very judgemental.

nulgirl Tue 26-Jan-16 00:38:24

And why do you think the boy would be better off with a druggie mum and her abusive boyfriends Suburban? Because she's female? Why do you think a stable family life with his dad and half siblings would be worse than his current set up?

The situation sounds awful and fwiw I hope you do manage to get custody. At the very least if you try and its unsuccessful then your stepson will know when he's older that his dad tried to rescue him from what seems like a crappy home life.

ClarenceTheLion Tue 26-Jan-16 01:06:42

You have a chance, definitely. Especially with SS involvement.

SuburbanRhonda Tue 26-Jan-16 01:24:41

And why do you think the boy would be better off with a druggie mum and her abusive boyfriends Suburban? Because she's female?

Not quite sure how you've managed to infer all that from my post but just to reiterate, the OP did not say legal proceedings are in progress, so why residency would be up for consideration is unclear, unless the OP has omitted something.

AcrossthePond55 Tue 26-Jan-16 01:52:18

I think, suburban, that OP is wondering what the chances are of winning custody if the child's father were to just file a petition for it through the courts. Any parent is entitled to do that regardless of whether or not SS is involved. And if what OP is saying is true and can be proven I'd say they stand a fair chance.

ChristineDePisan Tue 26-Jan-16 02:15:41

Honestly? I think you need to get proper legal advice from someone in RL where you can sharethe full details of the situation, and not from some random internet armchair lawyers.

I'm sorry about your DSS's situation. I have been on the periphery of something similar, and know how hard it is to decide when to step in / sit on your hands a little longer. flowers

Atenco Tue 26-Jan-16 02:52:24

Has your partner gone to court about this? I am no legal expert, just a regular mumsnetter, but I understand that residence comes in ratios. Maybe he could convince the judge that a different ratio in his favour would be better for his son.

SuburbanRhonda Tue 26-Jan-16 08:59:08

acrossthepond

I think you're right, but without hearing the facts from both sides presented in an objective manner, it's impossible to say what the outcome would be if any legal proceedings were to start. assong the OP is in the UK the fact she speaks about "custody" and not residence shows she and her DP have not yet sought legal advice about how to proceed.

What I would advise, OP, if you both decide to go down this route, is to focus on supporting the child when he stays with you (you don't mention how much contact you have with him at present) and less on criticising his home situation. Think about what you could offer if your DP decided to apply to court. Bear in mind it's a long and arduous process and that there's every possibility you would be required to facilitate contact with his mother.

Tbh if the situation you describe is accurate and SS have been involved for two years and are now closing the case, the must have assessed h as not at risk f significant harm

IAmPissedOffWithAHeadmaster Tue 26-Jan-16 09:01:47

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

SuburbanRhonda Tue 26-Jan-16 09:02:07

Out of interest, does he tell your DP he wants to come and live with you when you have contact visits?

IAmPissedOffWithAHeadmaster Tue 26-Jan-16 09:06:48

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

BombadierFritz Tue 26-Jan-16 09:07:55

How much do you get to see him at the moment? Overnights must be almost impossible with that distance. Was it her who moved so far away?

IAmPissedOffWithAHeadmaster Tue 26-Jan-16 09:11:15

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

babybarrister Tue 26-Jan-16 09:11:51

All depends on child's welfare - how much time does he spend with you now?

MishMooshAndMogwai Tue 26-Jan-16 10:22:37

He spends 2/3 weekends with us a month as he lives so far away (Friday eve-Sunday Eve) (it's 2-3 as the 3rd weekend can either be spend here with us or there with dp and his family. The 4th weekend dp works). To travel through the week would be too much for him.

Dp is the driving force here and I've made sure that have supported him and made sure it is mostly him however it was me who posted on mn for advice and maybe finding out where to start or hearing of any experience. Sorry if it came across as only me caring, that certainly isn't the case.
I know I have no legal claim to the child but my dp does and it is him who want to proceed with this and I am giving him my absolute backing.

Yes, dss is 5 and dd is 4. I don't see what that has to do with the case tbh. Dss is dps son, dd is my daughter and the baby is ours together. We have been together since dd was 6 months old so just over 4 years.

Dp moved down here to be with me before the situation with dss worsened and social services were brought in. The contact has been the same since he started school last year (he's in yr1 now).

BombadierFritz Tue 26-Jan-16 10:25:02

Can you move back up again or even see if she can move nearer?

MishMooshAndMogwai Tue 26-Jan-16 10:30:20

There's no way she'd move. We've considered moving but it's just not doable at the moment. It may be an option in the future but not for a long while.

SuburbanRhonda Tue 26-Jan-16 10:33:51

Thanks for coming back to explain.

If your DP is the driving force, then I would presume he's consulted a solicitor specialising in family law.

I'm guessing that the reason you know in such detail what's apparently been going on for the child is because your DP has been attending multi-agency meetings for the child? And be reassured that if the child's attendance is that poor the EWO will be involved as well.

MishMooshAndMogwai Tue 26-Jan-16 10:41:27

Social services and the school have both had meetings and phone calls with dp. The school has tried to arrange a meeting between them, the EWO and dss' mum but she refused to go. I'm not sure what happens now, the school said that they would work with the EWO to assess the situation without her present.

Dp gets all the phone calls from the school as she refuses to give them her phone number and they will not take it from him. In case of an emergency, dp would get a phone call and he would then need to contact her to inform her. This worries me a lot as due to the nature of his work and the nature of her attitude, there will be many occasions when this is not possible and they will be left uncontsctable.

We/he/I have not contacted anyone yet beyond SS and the school. We are just starting to look into it, hence this thread.

Micah Tue 26-Jan-16 10:50:48

Does anyone know what the situation would be if they just kept DSS with them? I'm always puzzled, in the absence of a residence order, why one parent is allowed main residence, and then keep it by default, with the other parent having to change it legally, iyswim. If there's no legal instruction on where the child lives, then both parents have the right to RP surely, and if she wanted to prevent it, she'd have to do so legally, as he would?

For example, when DH split his ex kicked him out (OM) and kept the kids. He tried to go for RP, but was told he'd have to take it to court. Why is she allowed to do that when they're "equal" parents. Why didn't she have to take him to court to become RP?

Can you ask SS? Maybe get there advice on him coming to live with you while you sort it out?

Also second legal advice

SuburbanRhonda Tue 26-Jan-16 10:50:49

I'm responsible for attendance at a primary school and if a parent was invited to meetings with the EWO but consistently failed to attend it would escalate and end up with their legal team.

I'm very surprised indeed that the school is happy with having the child's only emergency contact as someone who lives 100 miles away. What about the child's maternal grandmother? Is she not a contact?

Sedona123 Tue 26-Jan-16 10:54:04

I would recommend consulting a Lawyer.

We had a pretty similar situation in my family. My DB was put off of going for custody of his DS for years as SS wouldn't support him "breaking the Mother/Child bond" between his DS and ex. This was even though said ex openly admitted to frequently taking drugs when looking after him, plus only ever seemed to have abusive DP's (police called out on many occasions). Anyway, after years of this DB went ahead anyway. The Judge was visibly shocked by the file he was reading (ex didn't even show up to court), and gave my DB full custody.

MishMooshAndMogwai Tue 26-Jan-16 10:56:44

Dss and his mum have no contact with her family after a row over her behaviour.

I also wonder what would happened if we just kept him. I am a TA and this did happen with one of the children at the school. She has now been moved to another school so I don't know how it panned out.

SuburbanRhonda Tue 26-Jan-16 10:56:45

micah

I think it would be very stressful for the child and not at all in his interests for the OP's DP to keep him there against the agreement he presumably has with the child's mother. If SS have been involved for two years they will be well aware of what the contact arrangements are, regardless of whether there is a court order.

All the child's mother would have to do is phone the child's SW and tell him his father is refusing to return him and it could be game over for any issue of residence.

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