He and his ex-wife share a 7 yr old son. The mother seems to go out of her way to impede visitation and hardly ever answers the phone when my fiance calls to speak to his son. It seems when she needs a babysitter she offers him a chance to see his son but demands he drives the full distance (PA to VA) both ways and offers him a day or so notice at most. She's made several important decisions regarding schooling without including my fiance whatsoever. She keeps asking him to sign papers so their son can get a passport and when he refuses to do so without a more strict visitation agreement than the extremely vague one they have now, she threatens to take him to court to force him to give up his rights so her fiance (from Portugal) can adopt the child. He's going to file for custody soonShe's in the Air Force and works multiple shifts some night shifts and both of us work full-time day shifts and are civilians. She was stationed in Portugal for a few years, and took her son there with her without discussing anything about it with my fiance. She told him right before they were scheduled to move. He wound up needing to call her commanding officer to confirm there were flights available (she said there weren't) and she had time off on leave (she said she didn't) in order to see him for Christmas after not seeing him for 2 years beacuse she wouldn't cooperate. Since she's been back in the states she's been very vague about where she was staying and for how long. We tried to convince her to put their son in school in Pennsylvania and have him live with us while she got settled but she refused, so this 7 year old was not in school from November to mid-January because she hadn't made settlement on her house.
The best thing you can do to help your fiance in his custody battles is to continue being supportive of his efforts as he moves through the process.
With the facts you have laid out it seems that a set visitation schedule would be more appropriate than the "vague" terms in place right now. Courts do not look favorably upon parents who attempt to block out the other parent from having and maintaining a relationship with their children. Offering to provide visitation as a babysitter at her complete convenience points out the need for a set schedule - parents should not be treated as free babysitting services, whether they live 3 miles apart or 300 miles apart.
As far as forcing your fiance to give up his parental rights to allow her fiance to adopt, a judge will not terminate a parent's rights without a very good reason. Terminating parental rights and allowing another person to adopt creates a legal fiction that the adopted child was born to the new parent, even to the point of having a new birth certificate reflecting that fact created and filed with the government. If your fiance has regular contact with his son it is unlikely that a judge would allow an adoption like this to go through.
Custody battles are very stressful, and by their very nature are never truly "finished." In all likelihood your fiance could be dealing with these disputes for the next ten years, which brings me back to my first point: the best thing you can do is support him through these issues and encourage him to maintain that relationship with his son despite the difficulties with his ex-wife.
Her threat to "take him to court to force him to give up his rights so her fiance can adopt the child" is a bunch of nonsense and your fiance should IGNORE those threats. Except for the case of voluntary adoption proceedings, it would be the State/Child Protective Services that would file for an involuntary termination of parental rights (in cases of parental unfitness based on child abuse, neglect, etc.), not a spiteful, vindictive parent against the other parent (which seems to be the case here).
A regular pattern of excluding the non-custodial parent from the child's life, unreasonably withholding visitation, excluding the other parent from major information and decisions about the child (except in the case of sole legal custody), etc. may be evidence of the custodial parent engaging in parental alientation. In those types of cases, judges in VA will often set very firm ground rules and a very specific visitation schedule and issue a strong warning to the CP that if the behavior continues, then custody will be given to the NCP.
Also, with this type of behavior, threats of terminating the NCP's relationship with the child, and ties to a foreign country, the court may very well include a no removal provision which would require the CP to petition the court for permission to move the child out of the state and/or to remove the child even temporarily from the U.S. In certain circumstances, the court may even order that the child's passport be surrendered to the Court as a condition of the CP's continued custody or even visitation with the child.
In short, I would recommend that your fiance find a good child custody litigation attorney in Virginia (in the local area of where the child currently resides) and file a petition for modification of custody and visitation ASAP.
This response does not create an attorney-client relationship and is intended for general information purposes only.
There are several very important ways you may assist your fiance.
First - don't become an issue. Often third parties can become targets, so it is best that you retain a low profile.
Help your fiance ask around to determine the best family law litigator available to retain.
Help your fiance organize his thoughts and evidence is support of his motion to amend custody.
Keep a record of events.
Start a list with addresses and contact information for witnesses.
Do all that, and he starts out ahead.
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