My son was court ordered to live with his father at the age of 7 due to my addiction to drugs. He is now 10, and I have been clean for over one year now.
He has never wanted to live with his father and now his desire to return home with me is consuming his everyday life! His grades and attitude are being affected because his father refuses to let him live with me simply because he wants to keep him rather than help make him happy!
I’m afraid to return to court and losing again due to the fact that he has more money and because of my background. However, I would be letting my son down by not fighting for what he truly wants more than anything, which is to simply be back with his mommy!
As custody of your son is in the control of the courts, you will need to file a petition with the court to review the custody situation. It is unclear from your question whether the custody was determined as part of a divorce, paternity case, juvenile proceeding, or other court matter. The procedures will vary depending upon the type of case and the laws of your state. However, the general consideration will be the best interests of your son.
If the school staff, your son’s doctor, or other professionals can provide evidence in support of the adverse affect that the custody situation is having on your son, you may be able to convince the court to change custody. However, as you note, you will also be arguing against your history and whether the father can provide a better home for your son. While your son’s desires may be taken into account by the judge or a guardian appointed for your son, the court must weigh all the factors, not just your son’s desires. The court may determine that the father should retain custody but that you have increased visitation or that family or individual counseling or therapy may be warranted to help address the issues with your son.
You should consult with an experienced family law attorney in your area who will evaluate your son’s current situation in light of the history of your case and the practices in your area and discuss with you your options.
Richard Coffee is a Litigation Manager in the Belleville Illinois office of Cordell & Cordell. He is an experienced divorce attorney whose practice is devoted to domestic litigation. He is licensed in the State of Illinois and is admitted to practice law in the U.S. District Courts for Northern, Central and Southern Illinois.
Mr. Coffee has extensive domestic litigation trial experience representing clients in courts throughout Illinois on all aspects of domestic litigation, including the representation of clients who are current or retired military personnel with issues under the Soldiers and Sailors Civil Relief Act and the Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act, clients involved in state court jurisdictional disputes due to the relocation of one or both parties from or to Illinois, and clients with government or private pension benefit valuation and division issues.