My question involves a child custody case from the State of: MASSACHUSETTS
My husband and I have a 9 year-old daughter. He has a 12 year-old daughter from a prev. relationship and after her alienating the child from her dad again and again, we are considering suing for sole phys. custody. DO WE HAVE A CHANCE?
Background: They were young, unmarried and became pregnant. He was NOT abusive or used any drugs/alcohol and wasn't unfaithful. She was influenced by her parents NOT to allow him to be on the birth cert. (reason: they "didn't know what he was gonna do" - but never even gave him a chance to show them). Physical threats were made from her and her parents to get him to "stay away", a false restraining order was filed (she never showed up the day it went to court), etc. She refuses his child support and tells him she never wants to see/hear from him again. She avoids him and when he attempts contact through her family, they tell him if they oblige, mom's threatened to cut off their visitation with the child as well! She shows up when the child's 5, saying she's been asking about her daddy. They begin voluntary visitation/child support. Dad/child are elated and begin bonding. 3 mos. later, the child is visiting and says that "mommy's getting married". Mom shows up to pick up their child, admits to getting married later THAT DAY (impulsive marriage, they dated for 2 weeks). He says "Congrats!" Next visitation, she's NOWHERE TO BE FOUND. Her apt. is empty. He calls her parents, they reluctantly tell him she moved w/ her new husband to another town far away and that's "all they know". Bull. Online searches turn up nothing. She vanished without ONCE contacting him to continue visitation. He's devastated but doesn't take her to court, hoping mom and her new husband will make a happy life for her. He doesn't want to drag his child through the court system.
Their marriage lasts 4 yrs. and, according to both mom and the child, it was a bad situation. He was verbally/emotionally abusive. Child is forced to call stepdad "DAD". My husband finds out her phone #. calls numerous times only to get hung up on and yelled at to STAY AWAY. Mom blamed her actions on my husband, saying he "didn't seem serious about being a dad". 100% UNTRUE. They divorce, she ends up living with her parents and goes on welfare. The DOR sues my husband for child support as a result. Before the court date, she contacts him, saying their daughter needs a father. Great. He's thrilled, they begin voluntary visitation/child support again. In court, she was NOT awarded back support (thank goodness) but a new order is set up for support with a visitation sched. of every other weekend included. She tries to deviate from the order CONSTANTLY and becomes horribly irrational and angry when he doesn't oblige. She's very short-tempered and they have many arguments over the phone and during drop-offs/pick-ups. He's (almost annoyingly) even-tempered and that sets her off when he doesn't get angry right back. In the time visiting with the child, we've ALL bonded, incl. our daughter who's now 9. We've also learned that her life with her mom hasn't been good AT ALL. She's never had a stable living environment, living with her mom's parents, friends and always in a seedy part of town with no room to play, living off the government (often illegally), and has always kept their home looking like a dump. The child calls me a "neat freak" because I fold laundry after I take it out of the dryer! It's a weird concept to her. She's unhappy/confused with how irresponsible and self-serving her mother is, and seems upset by things that go on when she's with her mom. Her mom isn't disabled but hasn't worked in over a year (living off child support and a dog mauling settlement), has a poor work history, scams the governm't and that's a bad example to set for a child. The child has behavioral problems and is ill-equipped to handle everyday problems. She's very angry, selfish, and acts overly-entitled (like her mother, unfortunately). We're afraid for her future. When my husband tries co-parenting with the mother, she laughs, belittles his attempt at fathering their child, makes excuses for the child and she blames him for not taking them to court (?!?) The mother has brainwashed the child into believing she has been "protecting her from her dad" all the years and it shows...she opens up to me and her sister, but rarely to her dad. She's clearly affected negatively by what her mother's put her through, and showing signs of parental alienation syndrome (PAS).
Fast-forward to now. A short phone argument occurs between she and my husband, she called the next day and said "Because of the way you talked to me yesterday, if you wanna see our daughter, TAKE ME TO COURT!" and hung up. Mom violated the court order and refused visitation again (we missed 3 visits and her birthday), which we're taking to court on an emergency basis. She now says via email that it was the CHILD'S IDEA not to come, and that it was all just a coincidence. Bull. We do, however, have email evidence of her admitting to taking away his visitation.
We want to fight for sole custody mainly on the grounds of parental alienation and emotional/psychological abuse. She keeps showing up then taking their child from her dad but we would always ENCOURAGE a realitionship between her and her mom, as well as her mom's family. Unlike her, we view that as important to the child's development.
Do we have a chance? Our lawyer says maybe. What do you think of it all?