My question involves a child custody case from the State of: Massachusetts.
My boyfriend and I currently live in an apartment together. His ex wife, and two boys, currently live in my boyfriend's house in Massachusetts. They've been living there because my boyfriend decided he did not want to live alone in his house, at the same time, she was being evicted with the kids from an apartment she stopped paying rent for. So it made sense to him, to give his kids a stable home. She does not make co-parenting easy.
I believe they have joint custody, she has 70% of the time, and he has 30% of the time with his children. Instead of directly paying his ex-wife child support, they have an agreement for her to pay him weekly for rent, and he pays the rest of the mortgage which comes out to how much he would've paid child support. They have no formal lease agreement in writing. For a while she did not pay rent and she's owed him over $1,000 at times. He still pays for some of the kids activities (sports, doctors visits, dentist cavity fillings, etc), and we take them on the weekends to their games and practices.
As of this month, he has been made aware by his youngest's teacher that he has missed many assignments and she is concerned. My boyfriend spoke with his ex-wife and they agreed for him to take his game console away while she was at work. He went to the ex wife's place of living (his house), with her agreeance, and took his game console. Upon going there, he realized the house has become severely filled with junk. There were just pathways to walk thru the house. The kitchen counters, and any table space is covered with junk. Her youngest's room is FILLED with her stuff (clothing mostly). He just has enough room to sleep on his bed. Things are piled up over 4 ft high in some areas of the house.
My boyfriend voiced his concerns to her, because he needs to get the house re-appraised to get PMI taken off his mortgage. He was concerned they may call DCF on her for the state of the house. She did not respond kindly and barely responded at all.
Now my boyfriend is currently repairing his house. He notices his youngest is home "Sick" with no fever. The ex wife has them during the school week, and allowed him to stay home while she was at work. He let him stay home the 1st day while working on the house, and on the 2nd day he was working on the house, his youngest was home "sick" again, with no fever and did not look sick. He took him to school and got a print off a how many days absent and tardy he was. We've grown seriously concerned. His grades are also not the best, I don't think they were ever "great" to begin with, but average. Out of 180 days so far, he's been absent for 16% of that time. 22 unexcused absenses, 6 excused, and 28 unexcused tardies.
My boyfriend also received an early warning of truancy in the mail for the youngest. But I believe she changed the address that the school's mail goes to, because I am sure they've sent more letters than just the 1. I would like to add that she has previously had an addiction issue that my boyfriend knows about. When they divorced she went to rehab. We are under the impression she may be still struggling with an opiate addiction but do not have proof. We've also been concerned about their health. They are in the obese category of weight and height and feel like she is not giving them proper care.
Are these grounds for taking primary time with the children? I'm unsure of the proper legal terms of it all. We would be evicting her at the same time if we are able to take primary timesharing with the kids so that they would stay in their home they've had since they were kids. Also they'd be able to go to the same school. We are seriously concerned for the well-being of the kids and worried if they keep up this bad habit of missing school, that they will not graduate high school and they will not do well in life. Will he need a lawyer or with the proof we have, can he represent himself? What else should we be doing? Any advice would be welcome. Thank you in advance. Please don’t bash me for asking for advice. We care about the children and want what’s best for them and we feel like they are not thriving with her as primary care taker of them. My boyfriend and I work together as a team and if I can help by asking for advice, I will do that.