My question involves a child custody case from the State of: [Southeast State] / California / [State bordering CA]. Forgive the length, it is a complicated situation, but unique and interesting, if you take the time to read on.
I write on behalf of a friend who is not internet savvy. He and the mother of his child gave birth and lived together (unmarried) in California. She was a physically abusive partner and undoubtedly suffers from an undiagnosed mental illness. They lived together, he worked and cared for the family, at one point she got a domestic violence charge from violence against him. When child was around 8-months, mother flipped out and ran away with child. The father had his own legal problems from various bar fights (he suffered from alcohol abuse), and he was so devastated by the disappearance of child, he fled the state.
After traveling and homelessness for 3 years, he is now with in [Southeast State], happy, healthy, very financially stable, and in a loving relationship. He does still have a warrant in CA for misdemeanor violation of probation. He has begun paying back-due child support to CA, not to the mother, because she was on welfare. No custody or child support arrangement was ever officially designated by a judge. He pays child support to state govt because she is on welfare. He now hopes to file for custody, from his current location, because he is genuinely worried about the well-being of his son, for reasons apparent by a description of the mother.
Abused as a child and raised in foster care, mother is an ex(?)-addict and has been homeless much of her adult life. Mother was picked up with child by CPS two years ago although they decided to give her back the child (for reasons we will never understand). She will never tell the father her physical location because of paranoid delusions that he will kidnap the child. But she does contact him occasionally to ask for money or for someone to talk to (she has no real friends, because she is crazy). She is supposedly in [State bordering CA] now (so we think), unemployed, cannot find a stable place to live, has been married multiple times in two years (according to her - we can't ever know if she is telling the truth), and supposedly is being pursued by an ex-husband who just got out of jail and wants to murder her. She cannot find childcare because supposedly every childcare facility she has used wants to beat and abuse her and her child.
In the eyes of all who know the two of them, he is obviously the more fit parent. He wants to file for custody. He is financially and mentally stable. Can he file for custody in [Southeast State], even though the child is far far away in [State bordering CA]? How will that play out if he has no idea of her physical whereabouts? And given her paranoia, the second she learns he has filed for custody, she will flee to a new location and continue to try and hide. How will his warrant in CA figure into the situation? Can anyone give us advice about what to do in this royally F*** UP Situation??