How can I fight a joint-physical custody with the father of my kids (not married)? I don't want to share custody.

Asked over 2 years ago - Atlanta, GA

After doing a modification of my child support order, I was awarded a $400 increase. Well, this made my kids’ father angry; he is so upset that he told me that if I didn't stop the modification or agree to the lesser amount he wants, he will file for joint physical or sole custody of the kids.

I'm not an unfit mom. Can this really happen? He has an attorney who is supposed to be very good, but from my research, he has won the majority of his cases in Criminal Law. He really doesn't specialize in (or win) cases dealing with Family Law. However, I'm still afraid because I'm a full-time student and unemployed and can't afford an attorney right now. The father has never had a visitation order or spent much time with the kids. He's only doing this for retaliation. PLEASE HELP ME!!!!

Additional information

Also, he works Sun-Sat 11am-11pm or later, he's never at home, and when he does get the kids, it’s always once a month or once every two months. He has left them at home alone to go work extra jobs (he's a police officer) and his mechanic has even kept the kids while he works extra jobs at night clubs. Of course, when my son told me this, I was livid.

He has no heat in his home, so in the winter months he almost never gets them. He does not practice good parenting skills, and I'm afraid something will happen to my kids in his presence. I don’t want to deny his visits, but he's not involved in their life as much as he should be.

Also, he has sleep apnea and is prone to falling asleep. There have been times when he has driven the kids back home and my son reported that he fell asleep at the wheel. He has also fallen asleep while watching the kids, leaving them to go without food for hours. My son has called me on two occasions when they were very hungry and had not eaten.

Attorney answers (4)

  1. Ikemesit Amajak Eyo

    Contributor Level 18

    1

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    chosen by asker

    Answered . You really do not have to worry!

    First of all, at this point his threats are just words. Until he actually files something, you will do best for yourself if you just ignore him.

    If he does actually file an action requesting a modification of custody, he will have to show the court that there has been some change in circumstances that makes the modification necessary. Increased child support is NOT a justification for modifying custody. Based on what you've stated, he's not too likely to be able to address that first hurtle. But even if he does, he would still have to be able to prove that the arrangement he is seeking is in the children's best interest. The point is, just because he asks for it doesn't mean it will happen.

    Again, until he files something, just ignore the threats. If he actually does file something, just hire an attorney to assist you. But for now... stop worrying.

    Good luck living your life as usual,

    ~ Kem Eyo

    The above answer is a general explanation of legal rights and procedures. It does not constitute legal advice. Nor... more
  2. Rachel Aliza Elovitz

    Contributor Level 15

    2

    Lawyers agree

    1

    Answered . He may just be trying to intimidate you, but even if he files an action for custody, based on the facts you've provided, it is unlikely that he would prevail. None of us have a crystal ball, but if you have always been the children's primary custodian and if you have been the parent who has nursed the children when they were sick, made sure they bathed, gotten them ready for school, attended parent teacher conferences, driven them to and from extracurricular activities, attended school plays, basketball games, dance recitals, etc., and if he has maintained little contact with the children, does not have any means of keeping heat in the home, and moves around from place to place, it does not sound as if he has a very strong case (to say the least) to seek custody of your children - nor does it sound like he can afford an attorney. The facts, based on what you've shared, are in your favor.

    All that said, it would be wise for you to consult with an attorney - not just about the father filing a modification of custody action, but about visitation parameters being put in place that would protect your children, so that they are not left alone in the father's home, so that they are not in a home without heat in the winter, and so that they do not drive with the father until such time as he has addressed whatever medical issues (i.e., a sleep disorder) he has that may be causing him to fall asleep at the wheel, if that is happening. Best of luck to you.

    This answer is offered for informational purposes only. It is not offered as nor does it constitute legal advice.... more
  3. Glen Edward Ashman

    Pro

    Contributor Level 20

    2

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . Ignore what he says. At this point you have NO concerns and no legal problems. You will worry yourself to death asking for help for a problem that does not exist.

    When and if he files something, you need legal help. Someone saying they might do something happens every day, usually when people have no plans to do it.

    You just won one battle with him. There is no cause for panic.

  4. George F. Mccranie IV

    Pro

    Contributor Level 15

    Answered . Simply because the father of your children is a police officer does not give him any more right to a modification of custody than any other person. He would first need to show the court that a change of circumstances has occurred warranting a change/modification of the custody order AND show that the change is in the Best Interest of the Children. Based on information in your question there is apparently significant evidence that a change/modification of custody should not occur.

    You should make every effort to document the threats and poor parenting he has exhibited for use IF he actually files an action to change or modify custody. This brings me to my final point -- until he ACTUALLY files a legal action there is nothing for you to worry about. At this point there is only the threat of legal action. If he files an action later, you have had this time to get your defense in order. I hope this answer has been helpful.

    The information provided in this response to a question is not legal advise and is provided only for general... more

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Joint custody

Joint custody is a general custody arrangement where divorced or separated parents both share responsibility for a child’s upbringing.

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