I have spent plenty of time bitching, ranting and raving about my husband’s ex-wife on this blog. As I was laying in bed the other night, it dawned on me how lucky I am. Not everyone has the resources I have available to me. Some people can’t just decide that they want something and then put the ball in motion to get it done. Some people have to fight long, hard battles to get their kids or step-kids out of the care of an unfit parent. How do these people do it? What would I have done had I not had the resources I have at my disposal? That is when I realized, there are some people out there who need help. Help getting their children and step-children out of abusive or harmful environments. I’m going to do what I can.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m still going to use this blog to bitch and moan and vent about how much I hate my husband’s ex-wife and what she does to her kids. It’s a form of therapy, as I’ve said before. However, I am also going to do something constructive with it. I am going to provide caring parents and step-parents everywhere with some legal resources and advice. If you have been fighting with an ex or with a spouse’s ex and feel that your kids or step-kids are being subjected to neglect or abuse, I’m going to try to help you get those kids out of that situation.
First and foremost, you have to understand that you need proof. You can’t just go into a court of law and say “she did this” or “he does that”. You need cold, hard evidence. Pictures. Written statements. Objective proof that can’t be disputed in a court of law. How do you get it?
If you have the money, hire a private investigator. If you don’t have the money, do it yourself or have friends do it for you. Is this unfit parent leaving her children at all hours of the night to go out and party? Get photos of it and document each and every hour those kids are left alone. Does he or she come home stumbling drunk at midnight? Video tape it. A picture speaks a thousand words.
Don’t assume that the courts won’t care about certain behaviors. I used to think “So what, she drinks. The courts won’t care.” Wrong! The courts DO care. No, a judge isn’t going to care if someone has a beer or two on the weekends, but they sure as heck do care if a parent leaves the kids on a regular basis to go out to bars. These actions deprive the children of a parent’s care. Kids need attention. They need proper guidance and they need parental care. A lack of it is child endangerment.
Now, I’m not a lawyer. I have to say that straight out. But I have a lot of lawyer friends who have been “enlightening” me as to how some actions are indeed neglect, abuse and child endangerment and just how easy it can be to prove that a parent is an unfit parent with the right evidence. So here’s my advice to begin with:
1. Get a journal and document everything. EVERYTHING. It may seem small, but a dozen small things combined turn into something big.
2. Do some research. What type of people does this parent associate with? My grandmother used to tell me that you are judged by the company you keep. Turns out, grandma was right. If a parent is hanging out with drunks or druggies, it’s going to reflect poorly on that parent in the courts. Especially if the kids are exposed to these people.
3. Start making calls. If the parent does something wrong, report it to Social Services. I’m not saying you should call if mom was half an hour late making dinner, but if she says she’s going to be back at 10 and doesn’t come back at 12, call Social Services and tell them the kids are unattended or abandoned.
4. Get everything you can on everything and anyone having to do with the parent you are trying to prove is unfit. For example, the parents of my step-kids’ biological mother do drugs. The courts need to know this kind of information. You may not want to drag others into your custody battle, but you may have to.
5. See it for what it is. If an unfit parent refuses to see the error of their ways and doesn’t cooperate with a custody arrangement that is in the best interests of the kids, see the situation for what it is — war. You HAVE to go to war to protect those children. You are not being petty. You are not being vindictive. You are doing what you have to in order to keep those kids safe.
I’ll have more detailed tips for you as time goes on. For now, get that journal and start documenting and do your homework and get the evidence you need to prove your case. Everything else will fall into place.