I asked a question a month ago about my stepdaughters mother not enrolling her in school on time. School started August 20 and 11 year old stepdaughter was not registered until late September and the only reason she was registered then is because apparently DSS was sent to the home to see why she hasn't started and mother was instructed to register her asap. Well since then my stepdaughter wants to live with us because she's bounced around from home to home and has never been in the same school over a year. Weve tried to reason with the mother to stay out of court but she refuses to see reason. Mother has had multiple health issues due to noncompliance, doesn't work, and has never provided a stable home much less a decent education for this child. They've lived in motels and with whoever would let them stay. Stepdaughter failed 2nd grade due to too many missed days and failing grades. The mom tells us yesterday if we go to court we would have to prove her unfit and we wouldnt be able to do that because she's always had a roof over her head. Is this true? My stepdaughter has been very adamant about us trying to get full custody but the mother says she's not old enough to decide?
The one thing that controls how the court will rule is the best interest of the child. Mom could be a fit parent, but living with dad might be in her best interest. So mom’s possible unfitness would be one factor in deciding what is in the child’s best interest.
In your case, sure, mom may always keep a roof over her head. But if that roof is different every month, and other factors in her life (such as irregular school attendance) are not good, dad would have to prove that it’s in the child’s best interest for him to have either sole custody or primary physical custody. I highly recommend that he consult with a local family law attorney as soon as possible, as a contested custody case is not something that should be done as a DIY project (and you don’t get to re-file and get a second bite at the apple if you lose - you’d have to wait for a change in circumstances and then can only bring up things that have happened since the last order).
Note that unless mom consents to whatever relief dad asks of the court, the court will appoint a Guardian ad Litem to investigate and report to the court. The Guardian will be required to be paid for his or her time, so keep that in mind when you are budgeting for attorney’s fees.
Please note that the information contained in this response does not create an attorney-client relationship. An attorney-client relationship is not established until a signed agreement is made between the attorney and a prospective client.
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