Trying to keep my kids so they wont go hungry or feel left out with other kids when they ask them where they live and stuff
My first assumption is that your "girlfriend" is the biological mother of the children. With that assumption, are they your children ? Have you been established as the biological parent in a paternity action or named on the birth certificate ? If the answer is "yes", then I strongly encourage you to contact a local and experienced family law attorney to discuss starting a paternity action or a legal action to establish a Parenting Plan. The Court will then consider the "best interests" of the children in making decisions about where the children live, etc.
This may be child abuse; call CPS and report this situation. You should also consult with a good family law attorney about filing a petition to establish a residential schedule or parenting plan. See my AVVO Legal Guides on CPS, child custody, parenting plans, and paternity cases for more information about the legal issues raised by your inquiry. Please keep in mind that although my AVVO Answers and Legal Guides are often informative, they are no substitute for legal advice from an attorney you have retained for consultation or representation. There are always exceptions to the general rules. To find my Legal Guides, click on my photo. On my AVVO home page click on "Contributor Level - View Contributions" or scroll down further and click on "Contribution - Legal Guides." Scroll down the list of my Legal Guides and select the topics relevant to your question. If you like my Answer and Legal Guides, please make sure you mark them as “helpful” or “best answer”. © Bruce Clement
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Your question shows me that you are being a loving father rather than just trying to control your children or their mother. My suggestion is that you try to work out a plan with her so the children stay with you temporarily while their mom establishes her new home and the children see mom plenty of the time during this transition. When mom has a good (by her standards, and reasonable standards) home set up, the two of you should agree to a parenting plan that is in the best interests of your children, including generous time with both parents, but not too much back and forth for kids (especially on school nights).
Often, at the break up of a relationship, both parents have hurt feelings and are fearful of the other parent's intention to "take the children away" from the other parent. The more you both consider the other parent's feelings and the tough time your kids are having in this time of transition, the better your long term outcome. If it is hard for you two parents to communicate right now (which would be perfectly normal), I recommend counseling or a mediator to help work this out. For establishing a good and workable parenting plan, I recommend you use the services of a good family law attorney. We can solve a lot of problems before you even know they could have happened by wording the court papers right.
Best wishes to you and your family as you go through this difficult time.
The Court will decide what is in the best interest of the children, but it is your responsibility to bring the situation forward. If you already have a Parenting Plan in place, you need to request a modification based on a significant change in circumstances. If you do not have a current parenting plan (especially if paternity has not yet been legally established), you need to get to Court as soon as possible to have one put in place.
I agree with the other commenter, this may be an issue for CPS to investigate. Even if you don't want to get their mother in "trouble," you need to think about what is best for the children , and this may be your only option.
All of this said, you need to move quickly and you really need assistance from someone who knows their way around the system. I wish you the best of luck.
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