I recently spoke to a father who is distraught over his son’s living situation at his mom’s house. Here’s what he had to say:
“My ex is living a double life. She is involved with two men and splits her time between both. Our son is eight, and we share custody. My son recently expressed that he is being forced to call these men “dad” and not allowed to bring me up. My ex also asks our son to keep secrets from me about all of this and keep these men a secret from each other. My son has been struggling emotionally and diagnosed with anxiety, struggling in school, stomach aches, etc.
I should also mention that I have a restraining order from my ex (although not considered in our custody case), so there is a history of family violence. There’s also physical and emotional abuse between my ex and her other partners. In my opinion this is an unstable environment for our son, and I think it is the reason he has been struggling. I am considering filing a motion but was wondering if this is something the courts would take seriously.”
This is a challenging situation for both parent and child. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for a child to be in an unsafe or unhealthy environment during one of his parents’ custody time. The other parent is left feeling helpless – he must follow the custody order, and there’s nothing he can do to protect his child when he can’t physically be with him. In New Jersey, we have an option for fathers of children who are being abused and neglected to request emergency custody to keep their child safe.
How Emergency Custody Works
You must receive approval from a judge before you break your current custody agreement. An emergency custody order is a temporary ruling from a judge that puts in place or modifies a custody order based on the child’s best interests. If the child is in danger, an emergency custody hearing may be the quickest way to ensure your child’s safety.
At the emergency child custody hearing, your child custody lawyer for fathers will ask you questions to provide the judge with relevant testimony. Always be truthful in your responses; getting caught up in a lie can damage your image and prevent you from obtaining emergency custody. The same goes for any questions asked by your ex’s lawyer, who may try to get you to contradict your own argument. Remain honest and confident that your men’s rights lawyer has created a solid argument on your behalf.
Requesting A Change In Custody
Once you’ve been granted emergency custody, you will need to return to court to have your custody order made permanent. A judge will take a look at the evidence, including any CPS involvement and past domestic violence cases, and make a decision that is in the best interests of the child.
The stability of the home is one factor that the court will take into place when determining custody. The court will also take the mother’s situation and her actions, such as asking your child to lie and to call two other men ”dad” into consideration. These things are improper and not in the child’s best interest. In fact, this is a perfect example of attempted parental alienation – an issue family law courts take very seriously. However, there is little a father can do to prevent his ex from ever seeing her child, which means there is still the potential for your child to be manipulated or treated poorly. It’s important to document anything you hear from your child in case things get to a point where you would like to request an even more restricted custody schedule.
Custody cases are very fact-specific, which means it is vital that any father who would like to request the creation or modification of a custody order speaks with a child custody lawyer. If you are located in New Jersey, contact The Micklin Law Group’s attorneys for men and fathers for help with your emergency custody case.