I will write in 3rd person as to keep this simple.
Petitioner (Mother) filed for divorce from Respondent (Father) in 2013. Respondent had one child, only child, with Petitioner but ended up agreeing to pay child support for Petitioner's other three children because their fathers were out of the picture; also agreed to pay for all the rent and household , utility bills, car payment, insurance, phones, internet, cable, and food because Petitioner was a homemaker during marriage. The agreement was that Respondent would pay until Petitioner became steadily employed.
Since Respondent worked a full time job and the Petitioner was a homemaker, the Petitioner was granted primary custody and Respondent visitation three weekends a month (however not specified which weekends in minute order and left up to the descression of Petitioner, along with holidays).
In late 2015, Petitioner still had not become employed and Respondent noticed that Child was not receiving proper care such as hygiene, education, and even basic necessities such as clothing or proper nutrition. Thus, Respondent would have to provide child with hygiene products, new clothes and shoes, jackets and coats in the winter, and even proper food. Child also slept in the same bed as older half brother and would constantly complain of having to deal with his brother's bed wetting. Child also spoke of abuse from family members including being hit with a baseball bat which Petitioner claims did not happen.
With that, Child also proved to be extremely developmentally delayed, struggled in school socially and academically, was moderately illiterate with a severe speech impediment. Respondent requested that Petitioner take Child to a therapist in which Petitioner would sit in on therapy sessions. Respondent was not notified of therapy sessions and was not apprised Petitioner sat in sessions with Child.After a year of therapy, Child became withdrawn and angry. Respondent decided to withdraw Child from therapy after Child vehemently expressed his anguish about therapy and the constant ridicule and belittling he would receive while in session. About the same time, Respondent noticed extreme dental decay and took Child in for dental exam which resulted in two extractions, five fillings, and antibiotics to treat severe gum disease. Meanwhile, Child also had missed fourteen days of school mid-4th grade, making a grand total of fifty-three absences from school since the finalization of the divorce.
In December of 2015, Respondent filed Motion to modify Child Custody and requested full physical custody due to possible neglect and abuse of Child. Petitioner immediately filed Response denying all accusations of neglect or abuse. Respondent replied again asking the court to grant a CFI. Petitioner responded saying there was no need for a CFI. Magistrate denied the CFI.
Respondent requested a reconsideration of CFI and provided the court with 280 pages of evidence of neglect, including medical records, dental records, school records, and her previous child abuse charge as evidence. Petitioner responded a lengthy letter denying all the allegations and made it explicitly clear no cooperation would be awarded unless Court finds it absolutely necessary and Respondent pays all fees in full. The Magistrate denied the CFI once more.
Respondent requested a PRE or GAL in lieu of the CFI to represent the Child. Petitioner responded that there was no need for such representational experts and Child was fine in the full care of Petitioner. Again the magistrate denied the motion for representation. Respondent then requested magistrate to speak directly to the Child in chambers.
Meanwhile, Respondent noticed drastic changes in Child's behavior as the Child stopped sharing things, became quiet, and would instead shrug his shoulders and say, "I don't know" to questions.Petitioner wrote a response to the Court again asking that Child not be put through the ordeal and Child is happy and healthy in current parenting arrangements. Magistrate denied private chamber discussion with Child and demanded a court hearing to be set immediately.
More strange happenings occurred right before the court date, including more missed days of school, a strange phone call from Child at 11:00pm, and extreme behavior changes, pathological lying, and mood swings exhibited in Child. Child also became combative and stopped trying in school.
The Respondent gathered 586 pages of evidence proving neglect and possible physical, emotional, and psychological abuse. However, there were indications that the Child had been possibly lying about certain things such as being pushed off the roof by his half brother, being locked in his room without food or water, and being denied appropriate private time during baths. These stories became destorted and eventually details forgotten as time moved forward. Respondent had no choice but to hit upon only a dozen key points on the stand, including dental, education, and last physical indicating obesity affecting pre-existing heart condition. Despit the evidence, the Court awarded 50/50 with a reduction in child support to reflect only one child, not four children as in the original order. The magistrate annotated that 1) there was no reason for the Petitioner to be unemployed, and 2) there were possible signs of neglect, however the Respondent failed to file the correct paperwork indicating the reason for custodial change was due to the Child's dependence. Thus 50/50 proved reasonable in this case.
So the question is what went wrong here? What could have been done differently for best interest of child?