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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
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    4

    Default Can the Other Parent Get Custody if I Live in a Homeless Shelter

    My question involves a child custody case from the State of: Texas (Harris County)

    My ex and I (never married) have a 2 year old son together. Our current court orders are that he sees our son every Saturday 8AM-8PM and every Thursday from 6-8PM. He avoided me during the pregnancy and attempted to get 50/50 custody established even though he did not follow any of the 3 rule 11/TO's I had tried to work out with him. He did start seeing our son regularily after final orders and once I seen our son was comfortable I suggested he spend more time with him and was agreeable to every weekend, which he did for about 6 months. Then he met a girl out of state and started to cancel all of the time, lying and claiming he had to work, but the truth came out after their break up that he was really visiting this girl out in Iowa.

    It has been nearly 2 years now (our son is almost 3 now) since my ex has bothered to see him for a mid-week visit, claiming he has to work all of the time. It has become the norm for him to only see him one weekend out of each month and sometimes not even that much. Normally, when he does take him he picks him up between 11AM-2PM on Saturday and returns him between 4-6PM on Sunday. He always says he has 'things to do", but recently admitted he had 'rope tying' classes to go to with a married woman he was seeing.

    All of this time, I have been living the life of a hermit and sharing an apartment with my Mother and my brother while going to school full-time, majoring in bio-engineering (or trying to!!) I've had a hard time finding work, but the one job I did have I was let go from because I could nots be counted on- because of my ex always canceling his visits and my inability to afford a sitter, as well as my Mother's bad health (COPD/Severe anxiety attacks) that left her unable to handle watching the kids for very long.

    A few months ago, my mother's COPD had become so bad she had to go on short term disability and my brother's job was transfered out to Dallas- just when the lease was ending. My mother was apprehensive about re-signing a lease, unsure if she'd be able to return to work and I am unable to afford to rent an apartment and pay the utilities and my other bills all on my own. My ex did say we could live with him, while my Mom went to share a room with her sister until she knew what her condition and work life had in store for her, but just before it was time for me to move in, my ex said he can't have us (me, my 2 other children and his son) live there because girls wouldn't want to see him or have sex with him if they knew me and all of the kids were there. He did agree to let us stay one week and during that week he spent about 8 hours worth of time with our son. Within our first hour there, he brought home an 18 year old girl he had never met before and spoke to for a few days online to his home and bed and she stayed the night. I had to knock on his door and kindly ask the girl to leave before my young child woke up to some stranger coming out of his room! I cringed thinking- if he behaves like this with me and our son there, I hate to imagine how he behaves when I'm not around!
    Two days later- on the day he's suppose to see our son for his mid-week visit- the one he's been saying for nearly 2 years he can't attend because he has to work-he was home before 6pm, said 10 words to our son, took a shower, and was out the door by 7 to meet yet another stranger from the internet. Two days after that he brought ANOTHER stranger over.... in which I blew up on him and had her running out the door.

    My children and myself have been living at a homeless shelter since the morning after girl number 3 was over. I probably could have refused to leave his home dispite his constant nagging and worrying about how these strange women wouldn't have an interest in him if I was there and the kids, but I did not want to be around him and his lifestyle choices any longer. Since we've been at this shelter he has canceled his visits numerous times, so many that he has seen our son for the sum of one over night visit that was still short of 24 hours in total and one 8 hour visit. Plus I suppose the 5 hours he has had him so far today.

    I have been getting on him about his canceling, especially since I'm trying to pass 2 5 week long summer classes, which is hard to do when I have a very active 2 year old at my side 24/7. He keeps saying he'll take our son for his visits because he wants to and so I can study, but then he cancels to 'work' or because he has to fix a fence, might have someone move in or has 'stuff to do." Since I've been complaining he has said he can get custody of our son because I am living at a shelter. Is this true???????

    We've been here a little over a month, he's the one that kicked us out- over what strange women might think of all things, he's always canceling his visits. I've never been in a shelter before, but have a case worker here that is trying to find me a program that can give me housing vouchers to help us out. My brother in Dallas and my mom are just waiting to see if I can get the help to get my own place at this point. If it doesn't pan out by September then my brother is going to get a 3 bedroom apartment for us and I'll have to move to Dallas since my ex doesn't care to help out and is more concerned with his penis than anything else.

    Since he canceled again for Friday- then Saturday and said he couldn't come until next weekend, I asked if I could take our son to his step-dad's and have him babysit for the day and night and when he came back into town my ex could bring him back. He said sure. I dropped him off around 1PM Saturday and when I called Sunday morning to say good morning to my son, my ex's step dad said my son was not there and that his son and daughter in-law picked him up the night before. I asked for their number so I could call my son or if he'd have them call me. He said he'd have them call me, but they never did, even after I called the step-dad again.
    Around 7pm my ex called to say he picked up our son and that he was going to keep him for a few days. I am supportive of him FINALLY spending some time with our son, but I suspect he is intending to file an ex parte hearing tomorrow. If he does, is it likely that a judge will actually grant him custody on the spot just because I live in a homeless shelter and without giving me a chance to be there?

    Should I call the family court clerks office in the morning or throughout the day to see if he has filed a claim and if he has will they be able to tell me when the judge will see them so I ensure the judge is aware of all of the facts?

    Sorry for the very long post. I am hoping to give as much info as I can to get the most accurate advice possible. If there are any questions I should have asked, but didn't think to feel free to toss any info my way that might help me understand what to do or if there are pertinent facts I may have left out feel free to ask away.

    Thank you.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    OH10
    Posts
    14,192

    Default Re: Can the Other Parent Get Custody if I Live in a Homeless Shelter

    No, custody will not be transferred simply on the basis of you living in a shelter. Frankly, what did you expect to happen in your life, when you had a child? Apparently, at the start of this, you thought you would establish all these hoops he had to go through, to see his child. He decided not to play your game. You lost. Though possible, an ex parte hearing is not likely, since you can easily be there.
    Dear Santa. For Xmas this year I want a fat bank account and a slim body. Please don't mix them up again.
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  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Location
    Massachusetts
    Posts
    17,280

    Default Re: Can the Other Parent Get Custody if I Live in a Homeless Shelter

    is it likely that a judge will actually grant him custody on the spot just because I live in a homeless shelter and without giving me a chance to be there?

    No.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Posts
    4

    Default Re: Can the Other Parent Get Custody if I Live in a Homeless Shelter

    Thank you cbg. Now I can study for my exam's without worrying over this!

  5. #5

    Default Re: Can the Other Parent Get Custody if I Live in a Homeless Shelter

    Just remember this: many thousands of women every year end up in shelters, due to things like abuse (domestic violence shelters), natural disasters (Red Cross shelters), apartment complexes that burn down (homeless shelters), and lots of OTHER reasons. And they don't loose their children either. The whole idea behind shelters is that they give a parent and kids a place where the necessities of life can be had; shelter from the elements, a place to eat and sleep and do homework, (relatively) sanitary places to use the restroom or take a shower, a place to keep whatever belongings they have with them, and the peace of mind of knowing at least at SOME level, that they aren't just aimlessly walking the streets. They tend to not be luxurious places, but they ARE places that courts are familiar with, and the fact that you got such help for your kids and yourself as you work to transition into something more desireable, is exactly what the court would expect a caring, responsible parent to do. Staying at a shelter with your kids really is NOT going to be seen as a bad thing by the courts. At the end of the day, it's how you're able to keep the most important thing for their stability, YOU, with them as a family. Courts really LIKE that sort of stability, even it it's in a shelter. Unless there is some evidence that the children are somehow being neglected or abused or suffering some major trauma, the court assumes that the best thing for the children is to KEEP them with their primary caregiver.

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  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Posts
    4

    Default Re: Can the Other Parent Get Custody if I Live in a Homeless Shelter

    Thank you for the supportive pep talk AARDVARC, I really appreciate it. I was thinking the same thing re: other people living in a shelter and not losing custody too. Besides that, this is a SHELTER i.e... I am not living in a hot car or forcing my children to walk around, dirty and starving along the streets of Houston. This place isn't ideal and some of the rules I feel are a bit over the top (It's over 100 degrees outside, but I can't wear tank tops or shorts above the knee), still I have a private room to share with my children, our own shower, toliet, sinks and beds and we are fed and there's also a play ground and a clinic on site as well. Our son has been with myself and his older brother since day one- while his father wasn't even present for his birth and blocked me from contacting him through out the pregnancy and birth. As I mentioned earlier, he only sees his father on average one weekend/one over night visit each month if even that, so it seemed quite alarming to hear him say he's talked to people that said he can get custody because I'm in a shelter. I guess at this point it may be safe to assume he's not getting his advice from someone who has a law degree.

    I just find it amusing thinking about what a hearing would be like if he did file for a change in custody. I would like to think a judge would frown on a man trying to assume a change in custody over my living situation when he was the one who put us out on the streets when he has a 3 bedroom home to himself and during my brief time there I was doing his laundry, cleaning his home and cooking his meals- all in hopes for making the best of the situation and hoping I could change his mind about letting us stay. It's especially amusing since he claims he is so broke and that's why he has to work all of the time, yet I was willing to pay $500/mo and buy all of the food and do all of the cleaning if I stayed with him... yet his top priority over seeing his son every day and having help with his bills is to impress strange girls from the internet and have them over his home. Some people??

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    California
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    14,850

    Default Re: Can the Other Parent Get Custody if I Live in a Homeless Shelter

    Your homelessness and the kids living in a shelter will be one consideration of many. If the court sees the living conditions as unsafe or not in the best interests of the children, he/she might consider at least temporary placement with dad (assuming he is stable, has shelter, and can care for the children). No one can predict with certainty what a court might decide, but you living in a shelter with a private room will not - by itself - be sufficient grounds to withdraw custody. The key will be what is in the best interests of the children.
    A Nor Cal Cop Sergeant

    "Make mine a double mocha ...
    And a croissant!"


    Seek justice,
    Love mercy,
    Walk humbly with your God

    -- Courageous, by Casting Crowns

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Posts
    4

    Default Re: Can the Other Parent Get Custody if I Live in a Homeless Shelter

    That is understandable and fair. Still, this is one of the best Christian based shelters for women and families only in our county and is well acclaimed for fighting homelessness and providing stability and helping people get back on their feet. I don't do drugs, I don't drink or really have friends because I have made my children and school my top priorities. I've had one relationship in the past 4 years and it did not last long so my children never met him. My ex, while he does have a 3 bedroom home, he is constantly traveling out of state for work. Sometimes for days others for a week or longer (like this last trip was). When he does work locally he doesn't get home until 6-10pm. Aside from that he is an active sex addict and brings strange women to his home even while our son is there. He does at least wait to have them come over until our son is asleep, but as my first 12 hours of staying at his home showed- he lets them sleep over past the time our son is likely to wake up, which i can't assume is a good things or a good example, especially considering how he always has new girls come over- apparently he gets bored easily?

    Really, the only thing I'm at fault for at this time is not being able to find a job, which I am working on. It's just a catch 22 since I have 3 children so I can't really settle for a job slanging taco's or flipping burgers. I'm trying to find an office or hospital related job, which I pray I can obtain sooner than later.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    California
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    14,850

    Default Re: Can the Other Parent Get Custody if I Live in a Homeless Shelter

    It may never get before a court, and if it does, your situation may not be seen as a problem. I just didn't want you to think that your homelessness would NOT be a consideration at all. It will be one factor among many that a court might consider. And, provided the children are in a separate room from the general homeless population at large, that might give the court greater reason to believe they will be safe and secure.
    A Nor Cal Cop Sergeant

    "Make mine a double mocha ...
    And a croissant!"


    Seek justice,
    Love mercy,
    Walk humbly with your God

    -- Courageous, by Casting Crowns

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